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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Adopt a moratorium on heritable genome editing – Nature (Eric Lander, et al | March 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 15, 2019

We call for a global moratorium on all clinical uses of human germline editing — that is, changing heritable DNA (in sperm, eggs or embryos) to make genetically modified children.

By ‘global moratorium’, we do not mean a permanent ban. Rather, we call for the establishment of an international framework in which nations, while retaining the right to make their own decisions, voluntarily commit to not approve any use of clinical germline editing unless certain conditions are met.

To begin with, there should be a fixed period during which no clinical uses of germline editing whatsoever are allowed. As well as allowing for discussions about the technical, scientific, medical, societal, ethical and moral issues that must be considered before germline editing is permitted, this period would provide time to establish an international framework.

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The CRISPR-baby scandal: what’s next for human gene-editing – Nature (David Cyranoski | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 12, 2019

As concerns surge after a bombshell revelation, here are four questions about this fast-moving field.

In the three months since He Jiankui announced the birth of twin girls with edited genomes, the questions facing the scientific community have grown knottier.

By engineering mutations into human embryos, which were then used to produce babies, He leapt capriciously into an era in which science could rewrite the gene pool of future generations by altering the human germ line. He also flouted established norms for safety and human protections along the way.

There is still no definitive evidence that the biophysicist actually succeeded in modifying the girls’ genes — or those of a third child expected to be born later this year. But the experiments have attracted so much attention that the incident could alter research for years to come.

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(US) Is it time to revise the definition of research misconduct? (Papers: David B. Resnik | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 9, 2019


Often the US approach to research integrity is held up as the gold standard, but it isn’t without its critics and problems. Enshrining national arrangements in law both elevates their standing but also reduces their agility.  A regulatory approach can make it easier to argue for institutional resources to implement, while also can result in a greater fixation on complying with the letter of the law but not necessarily its spirit. We agree its high time for learned academies to get tough on sexual harassment and bullying, but national approaches to research misconduct must encompass the breadth of destructive/toxic/bad behaviour and be agile enough to respond to emergent problems and evolving societal expectations. And that isn’t ‘just’ a gender and International Women’s Day issue.

U.S. federal policy defines research misconduct as fabrication of data, falsification of data, or plagiarism (FFP). In recent years, some have argued or suggested that the definition of research misconduct should also include sexual harassment, sabotage, deceptive use of statistics, and failure to disclose a significant conflict of interest (COI). While the arguments for revising the definition of misconduct used by federal agencies to include misbehaviors other than FFP are not convincing at this point in time, the arguments for revising definitions used by other organizations, such as professional societies, universities, or journals, may be. Since these other organizations play an important role in promoting integrity in science and deterring unethical behavior, they may consider adopting definitions of misconduct that extend beyond FFP. Debates about the definition of research misconduct are a normal and healthy part of broader discussions about integrity in science and how best to promote it. These debates should continue even if the federal definition of misconduct remains unchanged.

Research misconduct, fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, definition, sexual harassment, sabotage, statistics

David B. Resnik (2019) Is it time to revise the definition of research misconduct?, Accountability in Research, 26:2, 123-137, DOI: 10.1080/08989621.2019.1570156

(US) Will Me Too Activism Cost Professor Her Job? – Inside Higher Ed (Scott Jaschi | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 8, 2019

A Vanderbilt faculty member, considered a hero to many women in science, finds her once promising tenure bid has stalled.

BethAnn McLaughlin is a hero to many women in academe, especially those in science. She founded a nonprofit called #MeTooSTEM to draw attention to the harassment of women in academic science, much by prominent men who are considered leaders of their fields.

It’s hard to be entirely confident what’s really going on here and your instinct will be shaped by your attitude to UsTooSTEM campaign, but the least you can say about the described tenure process is that it doesn’t look good.

She has spoken out against “harassholes” and has named names in public speeches, asking why some scientists are still showered with honors for their science despite the way they have treated women. She has urged members of the National Academy of Sciences to resign unless all harassers are removed from its ranks.}
McLaughlin also had notable success — where others have complained for years and achieved nothing — in taking on Rate My Professors last year. McLaughlin, assistant professor of neurology and pharmacology at Vanderbilt University, tweeted at the website that ranks faculty members, “Life is hard enough for female professors. Your ‘chili pepper’ rating of our ‘hotness’ is obnoxious and utterly irrelevant to our teaching. Please remove it because #TimesUP and you need to do better.” After a social media campaign took off to support her request, Rate My Professors announced it would take down the dubious “hotness” rating.

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