A stem cell study published in the journal Nature last year and led by a team at the state-backed Chinese Academy of Sciences did not receive the required ethical approval, according to the CAS ethics committee office.
This story from China highlights the interaction between Human Research Ethics (and indeed Animal Ethics) and Research Integrity. Where failure to obtain ethics approval can result in a research output being retracted. Even though China has more than its fair share of Research Ethics issues with their research, they are commended for acting in this case. Institutions should reflect on the interaction between their Research Ethics and Research Integrity processes. We will be producing a blog post on this topic.
The researcher was given a warning, suspended as a postgraduate supervisor for a year, and had some of his research funding cut, Yang told China Science Daily, the academy’s official newspaper. He did not name the researcher.
“We think this is serious because ethical review prior to starting a study is a red line that cannot be crossed when conducting scientific research in ethically sensitive areas,” Yang was quoted as saying in the report on May 9.
The study, published in Nature in March 2022, was led by Miguel Esteban, a researcher with the CAS’ Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health since 2008. Esteban earned a doctorate in Spain and has worked in the United Kingdom. His research areas are immunology, cancer biology and stem cell biology. Esteban has not responded to a request for comment.
The paper has not been retracted from the journal. A spokesperson for Nature said that for confidentiality reasons they did not comment on the editorial history or review process of specific papers published in the journal. But the spokesperson confirmed they “have not been alerted to any concerns regarding the paper”.