26 Apr 2021
Setting it Straight: Ethics and observational clinical trials
Though I’ve now been involved in basic biomedical research for almost 50 years, that’s largely been spent as a laboratory-based experimentalist working with mouse model systems. Now, all such studies are rigorously evaluated by Animal Ethics Committees comprised of scientists, other academics and lay people from diverse backgrounds. Comparable, but separate Human Ethics Committees play the same role with any systematic analysis involving people. Back when I started in science there was no requirement for any such scrutiny and approval process. The reason this change came about, especially on the medical side, rests in some appalling abuses that, as late as the 1970s, were perpetrated on vulnerable people. I reviewed some of that ‘horrible history’ in The Knowledge Wars and may also write about it later in this series.