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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

 For Vulnerable Populations, the Thorny Ethics of Genetic Data Collection – UnDark (Adrian Pecotic | September 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 10, 2019
 

To be equitable, genetics research needs more diverse samples. But collecting that data could exploit the very people scientists intend to help.

IN 2009, RESEARCHERS collected DNA from four elderly men in Namibia, each from one of the many San indigenous communities scattered across southern Africa. A year later, analyses of the men’s DNA were published in the journal Nature — alongside that of South African human rights activist Desmond Tutu. The intention, in part, was to increase the visibility of southern, indigenous Africans in genetic-based medical research. Soon after, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) representing indigenous minorities in Southern Africa took issue with the consent procedures used to gather the data and wrote to Nature’s editors accusing the paper’s authors of “absolute arrogance, ignorance, and cultural myopia.”

The San case highlights the thorny ethics of collecting genetic data. Yet today, to make medicine more equitable, scientists see the importance of sampling DNA from more diverse populations. Most genetic research uses DNA from descendants of Europeans, which means the related medical applications — such as genetic tests to see the likelihood of developing a certain disease, called polygenic risk assessments — can only benefit those populations. In 2018 in the United States, for example, the National Institutes of Health launched All of Us, a research program that aims to collect DNA, electronic health records, and other data, from about one million Americans with emphasis on including many different groups of people.

“When we do genetic studies, trying to understand the genetic basis of common and complex diseases, we’re getting a biased snapshot,” said Alicia Martin, a geneticist at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute, a biomedical and genomics research center affiliated with Harvard and MIT.

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Enhancing ethics review of social and behavioral research: developing a review template in Ethiopia (Papers: Liya Wassie, et al | August 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on September 1, 2019
 

Abstract

Background:
Africa is increasingly becoming an important region for health research, mainly due to its heavy burden of disease, socioeconomic challenges, and inadequate health facilities. Regulatory capacities, in terms of ethical review processes, are also generally weak. The ethical assessment of social and behavioral research is relatively neglected compared to the review of biomedical and clinical studies, which led us to develop an ethics review assessment tool for use in the review of social and behavioral research in Ethiopia, which could potentially be of value in low- and middle-income settings.

Methods:
Initially, we did a comprehensive literature review on principles, guidelines, and practices of research ethics, on social and behavioral studies, from which we extracted query terms to explore the opinions of selected key informants and focus groups in Ethiopia. The discussants and informants were selected using a convenience sampling method to evaluate an ethics review template, which integrated issues that commonly arise in social and behavioral studies. Finally, we directly solicited opinions from the discussants about the desirability, feasibility, acceptability, and relevance of the ethics review assessment tool and used the resulting data to refine our initial draft.

Results and conclusion:
Although the same basic ethics principles govern all research studies, social and behavioral research have some disciplinary particularities that may require reviewers to exercise a different orientation of ethical attention in some cases. Using a qualitative approach, we developed a review assessment tool that could potentially be useful to raise awareness, focus attention, and strengthen the review of social and behavioral studies by ethics review committees, particularly in settings without a long-standing tradition of reviewing such research. This process also exposed some areas where further capacity building and discussion of ethical issues may be necessary among stakeholders in the review of social and behavioral research.

Keywords
Behavioral, social, qualitative, biomedical research, ethics review, low and middle income

Liya Wassie, Senkenesh Gebre-Mariam, Geremew Terekegne et al. (2019) Enhancing ethics review of social and behavioural research: Developing a review template in Ethiopia. Research Ethics 15(4) 1–23.
Publisher (Open Access): https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1747016119865731

International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) Code of ethics: Critical reflections on research ethics in situations of forced migration0

Posted by Admin in on August 18, 2019
 

Context:
Research with people in situations of forced migration poses particular ethical challenges because of unequal power relations, legal precariousness, extreme poverty, violence, the criminalization of migration, politicized research contexts, the policy relevance of our research and/or dependence on government and non-governmental services and funding. However, Research Ethics Boards (REBs) are not always aware of these particular ethical issues; some countries and institutions do not have REBs; and some kinds of research are not subject to REB approval. In this context of heightened risks of research, and uneven institutional accountability for research ethics, the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) hereby proposes this code of ethics for research with people in situations of forced migration. Similarly to how Indigenous research methodologies incorporate a broad, engaged and critical notion of ethics that recognizes power differentiations and the agency of the participants within exploitive research histories, this document sets forth principles that are starting points for respectful research.1 It is intended to reflect the broad diversity of our membership, including those involved in gathering information – whether in an academic or community setting – as well as those who are asked to take part in research. That being said, we acknowledge that this is not a comprehensive nor exhaustive document, but rather a starting point for active, critical engagement with ethical issues.

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Australian universities must wake up to the risks of researchers linked to China’s military – The Conversation (Clive Hamilton | July 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on July 28, 2019
 

Two Australian universities, University of Technology Sydney and Curtin University, are conducting internal reviews of their funding and research approval procedures after Four Corners’ revealed their links to researchers whose work has materially assisted China’s human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang province.

UTS, in particular, is in the spotlight because of a major research collaboration with CETC, the Chinese state-owned military research conglomerate. In a response to Four Corners, UTS expressed dismay at the allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang, which were raised in a Human Rights Watch report earlier this year.

Yet, UTS has been aware of concerns about its collaboration with CETC for two years. When I met with two of the university’s deputy vice chancellors in 2017 to ask them about their work with CETC, they dismissed the concerns.

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