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China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West – New York Times ( Sui-Lee Wee & Paul Mozur | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 9, 2020
 

TUMXUK, China — In a dusty city in the Xinjiang region on China’s western frontier, the authorities are testing the rules of science.

Does your institutional guidance material speak to situations such as this, including secondary use that could present a risk to a population of people?  Do you have mechanisms to manage institutional conflicts of interest?  If not, this story highlights why such arrangements could be important.

With a million or more ethnic Uighurs and others from predominantly Muslim minority groups swept up in detentions across Xinjiang, officials in Tumxuk have gathered blood samples from hundreds of Uighurs — part of a mass DNA collection effort dogged by questions about consent and how the data will be used.
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In Tumxuk, at least, there is a partial answer: Chinese scientists are trying to find a way to use a DNA sample to create an image of a person’s face.
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The technology, which is also being developed in the United States and elsewhere, is in the early stages of development and can produce rough pictures good enough only to narrow a manhunt or perhaps eliminate suspects. But given the crackdown in Xinjiang, experts on ethics in science worry that China is building a tool that could be used to justify and intensify racial profiling and other state discrimination against Uighurs.
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(China/Gene) Chinese scientist who produced genetically altered babies sentenced to 3 years in jail – Science (Dennis Normile | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 5, 2020
 

He Jiankui, the Chinese researcher who stunned the world last year by announcing he had helped produce genetically edited babies, has been found guilty of conducting “illegal medical practices” and sentenced to 3 years in prison.

Given the degree of recklessness and premeditation, the lifetime health effects and that the genetic modifications are inheritable, some may feel an even harsher sentence would have been warranted.  Nevertheless, it is welcome to see the Chinese court impose large fines and prison sentences.

A court in Shenzhen found that He and two collaborators forged ethical review documents and misled doctors into unknowingly implanting gene-edited embryos into two women, according to Xinhua, China’s state-run press agency. One mother gave birth to twin girls in November 2018; it has not been made clear when the third baby was born. The court ruled that the three defendants had deliberately violated national regulations on biomedical research and medical ethics, and rashly applied gene-editing technology to human reproductive medicine.
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All three pleaded guilty, according to Xinhua. The court also fined He, formerly of the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) and known as JK to friends and colleagues, 3 million Chinese yuan ($429,000). His collaborators were identified as Zhang Renli, of a medical institution in Guangdong province, and Qin Jinzhou, from a Shenzhen medical institution; Zhang received a 2-year prison sentence and was fined 1 million yuan, according to Xinhua, whereas Qin was given 18 months in prison with a 2-year reprieve, and a 500,000 yuan fine.
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Don’t let researchers recommend who reviews their work – Nature Index (Dalmeet Singh Chawla | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 3, 2020
 

Some funders and publishers call it unethical, for others, it’s par for the course.

Why do some other funders and scholarly publishers still allow researchers to suggest reviewers to evaluate their work?

The US National Science Foundation and the UK Research and Innovation — Britain’s central research funder — are among those who still consider recommended reviewers, even though the evidence is clear that using these referees leaves the process open to bias and misconduct.

Between 2012 and 2016, more than 500 papers were retracted for compromised, rigged, or faked peer review. This was largely due to authors giving fake email addresses for real experts or fabricating experts entirely when suggesting who would be fit to evaluate their work.

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(China) Academic misconduct standards to be tightened – China Daily Global (Li Yan | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on January 2, 2020
 

China has strengthened its fight against academic misconduct by publishing new standards defining plagiarism, fabrication, falsification and other violations of research integrity. Experts believe the clarity will make it easier to discipline researchers who violate the rules.

The document, issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology, has been adopted by 20 government agencies ranging from China’s Supreme People’s Court to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Depending on the severity of the offense, punishments can range from canceling a project’s funding to revoking the offender’s titles and permanently banning them from promotion or other research positions. Institutes that connive with or shield violators will also be punished with budget cuts or judicial action.

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