Actually it's about ethics in research

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Re: If brutal honesty is just meanness, isn't science and tr

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jul 28, 2015 3:31 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Nah, we've moved on from that. We're on puppies now.
It's a hijack I'm really happy about.
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Re: This thread is about puppies now.

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Jul 28, 2015 6:45 pm UTC

I'm... not. But not a lot I can do about it.
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Re: This thread is about puppies now.

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jul 28, 2015 6:50 pm UTC

We can hijack it back to research ethics.
Here was a story from last year I thought was pretty interesting and made me happy we live when we do. tl;dr - research scientist fabricates a bunch of data, which is discovered when internet people read his papers and find lots of shady business. They post these findings all over a website that hosts scientific papers, and the scientist has a tenure position offer at a research university revoked.

Hilariously, scientist then tries to sue publication because of internet comments.
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Re: Nevermind: Research Ethics

Postby Zohar » Tue Jul 28, 2015 8:21 pm UTC

Missed opportunity in not renaming this thread to "Actually it's about ethics in research"

Yes
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Fractal_Tangent » Tue Jul 28, 2015 9:12 pm UTC

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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Whizbang » Tue Jul 28, 2015 9:14 pm UTC

And that's a fact.

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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby PAstrychef » Tue Jul 28, 2015 9:19 pm UTC

Actually, under the crap in the original there are two good questions asked:
Is there any topic that could be considered untouchable for exploration, and how do you do research on things that require pain/injury to the subject (like the studies on cold done by Menegle)
For the first, I think that there has to be some idea that the outcome of the exploration won't lead to, as it were, the end of the world. If a physicist discovered a way through different dimensions but the transit ether killed the traveller or caused the collapse of near spacetime so that the planet imploded-I'd let that stay theoretical. There is no way to prevent any new technology from becoming weaponized, so stopping the next Manhattan project is impossible.
The other is mostly involved in studies on living organisms. Can you cause deliberate harm in the name of science and the greater good? I'd say no. And I would include animal testing as well as human subjects. Anything that fits in a Petri dish is ok by me though. (Except those teeny South American frogs which will kill you with their mucus anyway)
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Zohar » Tue Jul 28, 2015 9:50 pm UTC

Depending on the extremity of the experiment, you might be able to find consenting subjects for them. When you can't - hopefully there's enough recorded evidence to get some sort of general idea of the science happening (in which case cool, use that).
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Quercus » Tue Jul 28, 2015 10:11 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:The other is mostly involved in studies on living organisms. Can you cause deliberate harm in the name of science and the greater good? I'd say no. And I would include animal testing as well as human subjects. Anything that fits in a Petri dish is ok by me though. (Except those teeny South American frogs which will kill you with their mucus anyway)


That's a position that has fairly severe consequences. Basically very little medical research could be done under those conditions for the foreseeable future. There's simply no way with current techniques to accurately simulate complex biological systems outside of living organisms, and even fewer ways to do it without access to tissues from living organisms. Furthermore it would seem almost impossible to develop such methods without access to animal and human subjects. That situation sucks, but it's where we are.

Now if you are willing to accept those consequences yours is a perfectly valid position to hold, if not one I agree with. Lots of people underestimate the consequences however.

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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby ucim » Tue Jul 28, 2015 10:14 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:...or caused the collapse of near spacetime so that the planet imploded-I'd let that stay theoretical. There is no way to prevent any new technology from becoming weaponized, so...
... I would do the research before the enemy does. I'd do it carefully though.

PAstrychef wrote:The other is mostly involved in studies on living organisms. Can you cause deliberate harm in the name of science and the greater good?
Yes. It's a question of degree. I swat flies with impunity, but I don't torture puppies. And it's also a matter of what is to be gained. Curiosity is not a justification for research that causes significant harm, neither is vanity, but in wartime, winning the war might be, so long as we don't become the enemy we are fighting.

It also depends on the alternatives. How else could you answer the question, or similarly important ones, without causing harm.
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Whizbang » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:52 am UTC

In a topsy-turvy switcharoo I have asked myself, what research has been done into ethics anyhow?

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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Shro » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:56 am UTC

There is a difference between data and knowledge.

The hierarchy that I prefer is data ->[1] information ->[2] knowledge ->[3] wisdom

[1] understanding the relationships between data, or the meaning of the data
[2] understanding the patterns of the data, or the context in which to apply it
[3] understanding the principles, or when and where to apply the appropriate knowledge in unknown situations
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby e^iπ+1=0 » Wed Jul 29, 2015 1:17 am UTC

Whizbang wrote:In a topsy-turvy switcharoo I have asked myself, what research has been done into ethics anyhow?

Well, I don't know if you'd qualify it as "research", but I'm sure there's been a heck of a lot of thought on the matter in philosophy.
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jul 29, 2015 1:33 am UTC

Quercus wrote:There's simply no way with current techniques to accurately simulate complex biological systems outside of living organisms, and even fewer ways to do it without access to tissues from living organisms. Furthermore it would seem almost impossible to develop such methods without access to animal and human subjects. That
Hi - I do research that involves Drosophila, which I have zero compunction about literally dissecting while still alive to look at their brains (yup, they have brains), and baby rat cortical slices. I've been in science using various tissue culture models for ~10 years now, have more than likely resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Drosophila, the vivisection of maybe a four hundred (ish), and the deaths of at least 300 rats.

There's a lot to discuss about animal rights with respect to research - I've had rotten fruit thrown at me at conferences (HILARIOUS) by ignorant protestors. I think a discussion on animal research models is a fascinating one to have.

I can think of few physical biological studies that require human subjects.
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Jul 29, 2015 1:37 am UTC

About animal testing-I'm actually not against the use of animals in experiments. I am against the kind of experiment where you harm the animal for no functional reason-most of the animal tests done in the development of makeup don't tell us anything useful anymore. I don't really have a problem sacrificing mice or rats to study macromolecular proteins found in the formation of memories-I did just that when getting my BA. But most psychology experiments done with animals and electric shocks or other unpleasant stimuli can be done in other ways. Then there is the question of how accurate the transfer is from mouse to human-given that many drugs are assumed to work the same in male and females until it's been shown that they don't.
And I agree that there should be a compelling reason for the experiment before it starts.
I doubt that there will ever be a simulation that can really take the place of working with real tissues.
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jul 29, 2015 1:54 am UTC

So, research institutions have pretty rigorous and involved animal request boards to fill out. I forget what these are called, but the process is fairly serious. Before animals can be dedicated to a research project, a proposal for their use has to be submitted. Of course, this can be somewhat all encompassing - 'I want to study epilepsy, and need rat neurons' will work, and you may very well have an undergrad using some of those neurons, which is to say, dropping the dish and wasting a batch.

The cosmetics industry is a particularly egregious example of bad testing. Spraying rabbits in the eyes with high concentrates of perfume solvent (parfum?) is a pretty silly way of determining that mucus membranes don't respond well to contact with high concentrates of perfume solvent.

Then there is the question of how accurate the transfer is from mouse to human-given that many drugs are assumed to work the same in male and females until it's been shown that they don't.
This is often true, which is why animal models are the first stage of drug approval.

PAstrychef wrote:I doubt that there will ever be a simulation that can really take the place of working with real tissues.
Which is one reason stem cell research is so vitally important.
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Sungura » Wed Jul 29, 2015 5:47 am UTC

So regarding animal testing in labs, very much pro it. This is something I have done and had to write up all those documents for the ethics committees for. It's not easy even with rats and mice. You have to qualify why you need live animals and cannot use cell/tissue/some other non-living or lower-organism (such as, drosophila) substitute. You have to quantify how many you need and why. You only get allowed so many for your project and if you run out well then sucks to be you. (Addendums can usually be filed but take a while.) you also have to prove your method provides the least amount of stress/pain (interesting note here - pain is a feeling of which we cannot say animals have - we can only say they have nociception - I'm using pain here in a general understanding sense but this is differentiated - I could be aware of this because of studying neuropathic pain in a rat model, wording is important). The method of euthanasia also has to be approved and they will come check on your lab to make sure you are following protocol. It's actually a fuck ton of paperwork and takes a while to get things approved by the board.

For example mice and rat retinas are actually terrifically like humans so they make great animal models for studying almost all things eye. No one needs a monkey for that (well, rarely...I did work in a lab that was doing some surgical technique studies and after two years of trying finally got approval to test their method in ONE monkey. ONE. To prove validity before moving on to human trials.) rats tend to be better than mice however for neuropathic pain studies due to their physiology. These things are all considered to select a proper model. The burden of proof is always on the researcher to prove they are using the least number of animals and the "lowest form" of animal/why you can't use non living methods, and have the experiment designed to cause the least amount of pain/suffering.

Cosmetic testing is fucking stupid though.
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Quercus » Wed Jul 29, 2015 6:00 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:The cosmetics industry is a particularly egregious example of bad testing. Spraying rabbits in the eyes with high concentrates of perfume solvent (parfum?) is a pretty silly way of determining that mucus membranes don't respond well to contact with high concentrates of perfume solvent.

Absolutely. Of the scientists and science students I've talked to about it I don't think I could find one who would support animal testing of cosmetics. It clearly fails the "greater good" test.


Izawwlgood wrote:I can think of few physical biological studies that require human subjects.

It's often not so much requiring human subjects (at least for basic research), and more requiring human tissues. In my field (immunology) there are many cell susbsets that are simply not present in animal models, or work so differently that studying the mouse or rat versions is not that informative. Of course the major functions and major cell types are maintained, which is why animal models are useful for examining the mechanisms behind the functioning of the immune system, but when you get down to details you often really need to look at human cells if you want your research to be relevant to human biology. I get blood taken regularly by my colleagues so that they can extract my white blood cells for study. That's not causing very much harm (I'm lucky enough to have good veins), but it is, strictly, causing humans medically unnecessary pain for the greater good.

PAstrychef wrote:About animal testing-I'm actually not against the use of animals in experiments. I am against the kind of experiment where you harm the animal for no functional reason-most of the animal tests done in the development of makeup don't tell us anything useful anymore. I don't really have a problem sacrificing mice or rats to study macromolecular proteins found in the formation of memories-I did just that when getting my BA. But most psychology experiments done with animals and electric shocks or other unpleasant stimuli can be done in other ways. Then there is the question of how accurate the transfer is from mouse to human-given that many drugs are assumed to work the same in male and females until it's been shown that they don't.
And I agree that there should be a compelling reason for the experiment before it starts.

I'm in complete agreement with all of that.

_____________________________________

Also, I can endorse what Sungura is saying from the UK perspective as well - animal research is taken extremely seriously and there are serious consequences for people who don't follow the rules (we're talking probably losing your career, and prison as a possibility).

One additional thing in the UK is you have to show that your study is using sufficient animals for scientific/statistical validity, but no more than that; because a study which uses too few animals, even for the noblest reasons, and therefore fails to be conclusive, is just as much a waste of animals as one using excessive numbers.

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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Sungura » Wed Jul 29, 2015 6:43 am UTC

Indeed, the numbers thing is a "least possible for viable results". Which honesty at about $15/day/rat (plus purchase cost which isn't your $5 pet store rat, but more $50-$100 depending on exact breed) we didn't want to use many. Science is severely underfunded and that will eat into grant money horribly.

Funny, a lab I worked in drew blood for testing too sometimes from employees, ha.

I wish human tissues were easier to procure actually. It's easy to donate organs when you die for transplant, but not tissues for research. And don't get me started on the "planned parenthood is selling fetuses!" stupidness that people are saying right now (it's not exactly true >_<). People who want to donate to science are often bared from it, it seems. There are so few cell lines available for some things it's nuts. And stem cell research would be great but that's as bad as abortion to the religious right which at least here rules. The animal model to human jump sometimes doesn't work even with all the best planning. At what point are stem cells "less immoral" than all the useless rat lives lost to research that ended up not translating? Especially when there are people willing of their own free will to donate?

I have to say the cutest animal research I ever did was for a contact lens manufacturer. Contacts are bad for infections of the cornea and so they do research (or, farm it out to labs like the one I was in briefly) to make sure they are safe to wear. Yes they actually make mini rat sized contacts! It's really kinda cute. And then when I got contacts a few years later it was the same kind as one of the ones we tested. So I knew not only were they good for the usage length of time I was told/on the packaging, but actually much more xD I love the industry side of research because although I don't get to be published in papers (proprietary knowledge and all that) I get to see it in day to day life, which really gives one perspective to what all science and this "horrible animal research" (if you ask peta) gives us.
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Quercus » Wed Jul 29, 2015 7:34 am UTC

Yes. I think one thing that fails to get mentioned a lot in this debate is that no scientist (at least that I've met) wants to use animals in research if they can think of a way to avoid it. Even if they are not bothered about the moral aspects (and the vast majority of scientists I have met do care about that), animal research is expensive and time-consuming. If someone can use bacteria for their work they are going to - because bacteria are fast, easy and cheap, if they can't use bacteria they'll use yeast, if they can't use yeast they'll use cell lines, roundworms, flies. It only if none of those things are an option that a lab will use vertebrate animals. Making a new transgenic bacterium for a research study takes a few days, a transgenic fly a few weeks. A transgenic mouse still often takes over a year and is orders of magnitude more expensive*.

Sungura wrote:I wish human tissues were easier to procure actually.

In our lab we actually are really privileged in our access to human tissues from hospital patients (things like skin from breast reductions, colon from resections, and the pieces of excised tumours that the pathologists don't need). It's something that our PI (principal investigator = head of lab) has worked long and hard at over the years, coupled with a fair bit of good fortune with where our lab is based (inside a major teaching hospital). The UK may also have a better regulatory environment for this (although I don't know that). You need a very good working relationship with the medical staff and a strong team of research nurses (who are the ones who actually run patients through the consent procedure, and collect the tissues from the operating theatres etc.). And most importantly of course you need patients who are willing to take the time to think about and consent to a use of their tissues which has no direct medical benefit for them, to whom we are enormously grateful. This access is a pretty direct facilitator of much of the work and success of our lab, so it's a real shame that this is the exception rather than the norm.


*This is starting to change with new technologies like CRISPR, but given that these technologies will also make the already easy organisms even easier the comparison still holds to a large degree.

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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:02 pm UTC

I've heard of a number of labs that use blood from researchers for various tests. It always struck me as a kind of ethical gray area, a step below Hwang Woo-Suk pressuring his grad students to donating ova. I mean, if I needed to experiment with something found in human blood, I'd just take my own as well. But it seems an iffy line with a PI pressuring you to get data.
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Zamfir » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:09 pm UTC

Is that really a grey area? Instead of just plain wrong abuse of power?

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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Quercus » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:37 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I mean, if I needed to experiment with something found in human blood, I'd just take my own as well.

There are serious safety issues with culturing cells from your own blood. Namely if they get oncogenically transformed in culture (which is by no means unheard of spontaneously, and is sometimes a deliberate part of the procedure) they pose a cancer risk, as they would be recognised as "self" by the immune system. That's why you work with someone else's blood instead.

But it seems an iffy line with a PI pressuring you to get data.

It's a definite issue. I would be very uncomfortable with a PI who pressured lab members to donate blood. However if handled carefully it doesn't really arise. I've never, ever felt under any pressure to donate blood to my colleagues, and I've actually refused on several occasions (normally when I've got a big experiment on that day and don't want my arm aching for half the day, which is what happens if I don't rest my arm after a blood draw). There are plenty of people in our lab who don't donate because they don't like getting blood drawn and our PI also donates probably more blood to the lab than anyone else. It helps that we're a pretty close knit department and it's perfectly possible to find people willing to donate outside one's own lab if no-one in your lab is available/willing.

On a practical level what normally happens is an email goes round from the person who needs blood to the whole lab asking if anyone is willing to donate on a particular day. Anyone who is replies to just the person and makes the arrangments. The PI never finds out who does/doesn't donate.

All of these blood draws are carried out under individual ethical approvals for each project - it's not like you can just ask for human blood at will.

I see that this is a potential abuse of power, but I'd actually be a little bit miffed if the solution was a blanket ban on donating for colleagues, because I care about the work my lab does (and others - I've donated for other labs in the department), and I want to facilitate it, and giving blood is one way I can do that.

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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Fractal_Tangent » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:54 pm UTC

I actually had no idea that people in labs donate blood for their own/other's experiments. I'm not sure why but it feels kind of weird.
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Angua » Wed Jul 29, 2015 2:58 pm UTC

It's pretty common in a lot of research. Some medical tests require a blood sample from someone else at the same time as a control and that usually comes from either a doctor or a nurse (people in yhe same team alternate).
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:11 pm UTC

If you look up Henrietta Lacks, her samples of cells have supported research for decades. Some of that research lead to highly profitable patents. Does she deserve monetary recompense for the uses her cells have been put to?
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:16 pm UTC

As an additional consideration, there are plenty of other types of studies where lab members volunteer to be participants. My friend works on spatial sensing, and her data is this super cool experiment wherein participants are strapped to a robot chair and blindfolded, and have to balance the chair against different degrees of gravitational offset. Each member in the lab was used as data points, and I don't think that's particularly unethical.

Quercus wrote: I would be very uncomfortable with a PI who pressured lab members to donate blood.
Yeah, and to sort of elaborate on this point, I think the boundary between 'pressured to donate blood/ova' is fairly fuzzy in the sciences, especially if you're actually pressuring your students to get more data more faster. I spent last Saturday night on the microscope until about midnight because that's when the flies were available and because my boss is submitting a review that includes some of that data.

PAstrychef wrote:If you look up Henrietta Lacks, her samples of cells have supported research for decades. Some of that research lead to highly profitable patents. Does she deserve monetary recompense for the uses he cells have been put to?
It's a pretty complicated issue, to be sure. Generally, AFAIK, tissue donation isn't compensated monetarily for research purposes. SHE didn't do the research, the research was done on her tissues, and at best, she should get mention that it was her tissues donated.

The reality of the situation however is that the tissue was taken without her consent, which is a separate bag of worms.
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Quercus » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:30 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:If you look up Henrietta Lacks, her samples of cells have supported research for decades. Some of that research lead to highly profitable patents. Does she deserve monetary recompense for the uses he cells have been put to?

Henrietta Lacks died very soon after her cells were taken. The cells were samples of the cervical tumour that killed her. The samples were taken without her knowledge or consent, as was common practice at the time, and AFAIK it was not at all clear until after her death how significant her cells would be to medicine. That makes the question of compensation to her family a very tricky one. Does the fact that it was her cells that were so important to medical research make her family more deserving of compensation than the families of the countless other patients who had their tissues used for research without their consent for example?

It's further complicated by the fact that nowadays the cell line (HeLa) derived from Henritta Lack's tumour has undergone so much genetic alteration as a result of long term culture that it's debatable whether they should even be classified as human any more, so the connection of the current cell line to her is perhaps more historical than biological (although the cells will clearly be more related to her than to any other human).

I don't have any good answers about the situation, except to acknowledge that it's difficult, and that I'm very, very glad that laws and practices around consent for medical research are very much more strict these days.

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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Sungura » Wed Jul 29, 2015 6:33 pm UTC

HeLa cells are always an interesting debate around the lab, regarding compensation and ethics. The part everyone agrees on is the whole taking-without-consent was very very wrong, but as pointed out, sadly more common in the days it happened, which just shows why regulation and protection laws are needed. As for her family getting compensation...that's a sticky issue, for reasons already pointed out. Personally, I feel compensation should be given to everyone who did not consent who had tissues taken, because to me that amounts to theft, which is obviously against the law. Not for the use of tissue issue (which rarely anyone gets compensated for, it's a donation thing), but the theft that occurred.

Fractal_Tangent wrote:I actually had no idea that people in labs donate blood for their own/other's experiments. I'm not sure why but it feels kind of weird.
I could see why people would see it as weird, but it's always been kinda normal, I think, for people working in those types of labs. I am sure there are labs where people can get pressured into it, but this is not, I think, the norm. In small labs I've been in, it's a general open request and if no one volunteers then no one does. Usually someone does. I never have and never did. And the person drawing has always been a phlebotomist so they have the legal ability to draw blood. In larger scale where there are lots of labs, or like when our lab was in a VA hospital, it would come around in an email that so-and-so's lab needs blood for an experiment and if anyone can volunteer get with xyz phlebotomist.

Quercus wrote:
Sungura wrote:I wish human tissues were easier to procure actually.

In our lab we actually are really privileged in our access to human tissues from hospital patients (things like skin from breast reductions, colon from resections, and the pieces of excised tumours that the pathologists don't need). It's something that our PI (principal investigator = head of lab) has worked long and hard at over the years, coupled with a fair bit of good fortune with where our lab is based (inside a major teaching hospital). The UK may also have a better regulatory environment for this (although I don't know that). You need a very good working relationship with the medical staff and a strong team of research nurses (who are the ones who actually run patients through the consent procedure, and collect the tissues from the operating theatres etc.). And most importantly of course you need patients who are willing to take the time to think about and consent to a use of their tissues which has no direct medical benefit for them, to whom we are enormously grateful. This access is a pretty direct facilitator of much of the work and success of our lab, so it's a real shame that this is the exception rather than the norm.
That is really awesome. We recently hosted a UK caver who also happens to be a MD, and it was really interesting discussing the differences (especially since I have had a LOT of troubles with doctors here in the last few years, he was rather appalled at how it's been!)anyway, from that side of things, it does seem to be a UK/US difference both in medical care and the translation from patient to research (such as tissue procurement). Of course this is a very limited comparison/observation, but there does seem to be a trend. It could be a cultural difference as well. Here people are classically skeptical of science and are quite religious about things, which does not seem to be as large of a problem in the UK. I remember, for example, even my recent hysto, and being in the pre-op area with a bunch of others, and there are only curtains so you can totally hear almost everything, and so many the other patients wouldn't give consent to even allowing a medical student to be in the operating room much less their tissues being used for <gasp> SCIENCE! The issue here could well be that people don't want to help with science, which makes fewer samples, which makes what exists harder to get.

In a way, I find it flipside. Isn't it unethical to refuse to allow your tissues, which are being taken and would otherwise be disposed of, to be used for science, which would potentially better the life of not only you, but others. If you have the potential to save lives, at no cost to yourself, shouldn't you do so?
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jul 29, 2015 6:53 pm UTC

Sungura wrote:In a way, I find it flipside. Isn't it unethical to refuse to allow your tissues, which are being taken and would otherwise be disposed of, to be used for science, which would potentially better the life of not only you, but others. If you have the potential to save lives, at no cost to yourself, shouldn't you do so?
I would say yes, but it's important to recognize that one of the issues with the HeLa line is that her family had no idea of what had been done either. There's an educational barrier here - frankly, to the uninformed, 'taking tissue samples' can be a scary or strange thing to ask.

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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Quercus » Wed Jul 29, 2015 8:36 pm UTC

Sungura wrote:That is really awesome.

Off topic bit I think Sungura will like (and other people, probably):
Spoiler:
One type of tissue that we are especially grateful to be able to get access to is (small amounts of) blood and resection tissue from premature infants with necrotizing enterocolitis. I'm always amazed by the courage of these parents with desperately sick babies, who nevertheless take the time to understand and say "yes" to something which has no direct benefit for their child and for which the default answer is "no". For those consent sessions the postdoc that runs that project normally goes along with the research nurse to be there in case the parents want to ask questions, and to thank them personally. This sort of tissue is so rarely available that this project, and the projects in other labs that make use of other bits of the same samples (it's a multi-lab collaboration to maximise the usefulness of each sample), is likely to be able to make a real difference to the understanding of and eventually the clinical management of this condition. Even though it's in no way related to my project, it probably the thing I am proudest of my lab having done.

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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Fractal_Tangent » Wed Jul 29, 2015 9:01 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:
Sungura wrote:That is really awesome.

Off topic bit I think Sungura will like (and other people, probably):
Spoiler:
One type of tissue that we are especially grateful to be able to get access to is (small amounts of) blood and resection tissue from premature infants with necrotizing enterocolitis. I'm always amazed by the courage of these parents with desperately sick babies, who nevertheless take the time to understand and say "yes" to something which has no direct benefit for their child and for which the default answer is "no". For those consent sessions the postdoc that runs that project normally goes along with the research nurse to be there in case the parents want to ask questions, and to thank them personally. This sort of tissue is so rarely available that this project, and the projects in other labs that make use of other bits of the same samples (it's a multi-lab collaboration to maximise the usefulness of each sample), is likely to be able to make a real difference to the understanding of and eventually the clinical management of this condition. Even though it's in no way related to my project, it probably the thing I am proudest of my lab having done.

That's both sad and uplifting at the same time, very nice and respectful. I appreciate your lab doing that.
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Re: If brutal honesty is just meanness, isn't science and tr

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Thu Jul 30, 2015 8:09 am UTC

Sabredog wrote:
Whizbang wrote:I don't imagine that people discovering Free-will is an illusion will have all that troublesome effect. People already believe an omnipotent and omniscient being controls their lives.


Not so sure. The ethics of punishing criminals and how we conceptualise crime and aberrant behaviour may have to be rethought.

You're both still thinking about this as compatibilists or libertarians.
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Aug 03, 2015 8:42 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Depending on the extremity of the experiment, you might be able to find consenting subjects for them. When you can't - hopefully there's enough recorded evidence to get some sort of general idea of the science happening (in which case cool, use that).


Consenting subjects given accurate information works for me.

I'm also okay with animal testing, when necessary. Minimize it, sure, and make it as humane as possible, but greater good and all that. I'm generally okay with current scientific ethics standards, and if anything, would probably say they're a bit overly timid to avoid controversy.

Agreed that pressuring the interns to give blood isn't really okay. Once it's potentially factoring into employment, that consent isn't really very clean. So, it's very much a question of the pressure/influence associated. I'd definitely prefer to err on the side of caution here.

As for as HeLa, etc goes...it seems reasonable to go back and compensate everyone from whom tissue was taken without consent. Or their descendents, obviously. The actual ethics failure was the taking without consent, regardless of how much it was used, I think. So, it would apply to rather more people than just her descendents.

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Re: If brutal honesty is just meanness, isn't science and tr

Postby Sableagle » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:34 pm UTC

Sabredog wrote:Dear God. I thought it was absolutely clear as day what I meant by truth in that context. I'm faced with a few possibilities:
1. I did not clearly explain what I meant -- this is very possible.
2. The posters didn't bother reading the post properly -- this is very possible.
3. A mixture of both --also very possible
I have read every word up to the end of the post partially quoted here. I have come to the conclusion that any attempt to sustain a conversation involving Sabredog would wear on my patience and my mood, and be an unpleasant experience for me overall.

I have also come to the conclusion that to be sure I understand Deva's posts would require further study, because there's a linguistic style involved that I probably haven't fully grasped yet, but I don't think that's relevant. I said it anyway. Sue me.

I think there is a fundamental problem with the examples in the OP: to each one of them, "No SHIT, Sherlock!" is a valid response.

"The scarring from your accident ruined a lovely face of which I had grown very fond." This conveys that the speaker was fond of the person's face and considered it lovely ... and also implies that the speaker is no longer fond of the face now that it's marred.
"You have scars." This conveys sweet fuck-all of which anyone concerned was blissfully unaware.
"You've had a haircut." This conveys ... well, it conveyed that the speaker is mentally unfit for enrollment in such a prestigious school, but that's contextual.
"You're disgustingly fat." This conveys that the speaker is disgusted. Unless it is a response to "I'm the sexiest woman here," "I have a sleek and athletic figure," "Why don't you want to go down on me?" or "So, Doctor, what's my biggest health issue right now?" it's probably completely superfluous information.
"Your son's body is decomposing in a pine box six feet underground." Excluding some cases of extreme delusion, this probably conveys absolutely no information whatsoever. The manner of its delivery may convey glee, and warrant a smack in the mouth with the butt end of an M14, but the actual information in those words is almost certainly news to nobody.
"Your penis is inside my vagina." This ... this ... Well, actually, I've known sailors and some of them could have needed telling something like that after a night out. It's probably information that shouldn't need conveying, though.
"The subject's brain was, at that time, in a jar of formaldehyde on my desk." This was, in context, an explanation for how the pathologist could be sure the subject had already been dead before the autopsy began.
"Cause of death was blood loss from a ruptured aorta resulting from the gunshot wound to the upper chest." This is another context one. You don't go up to someone who already knows this about his little sister and say it to his face just to remind him. That's impolite. If it's your job to establish and explain a cause of death, though, you do say this (if it's true) in your report.
"Your son would be alive if the guard rails had been up to spec and properly installed." Telling a grieving mother this every day for several years could be construed as an attempt to drive her insane, and if she shot you to shut you up I'd find her not guilty on the grounds that she was acting in self-defence. As the accident investigator, however, telling her this detail once may be very useful indeed. It allows her to use it in identifying a target for a compensation claim or complaint of negligence contributing to the death of a child that'll cost the fraudulent, negligent, incompetent and/or corrupt people involved a fortune, their jobs and/or their freedom and scare future contractors into doing the job properly.
"Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving makes a person four times more likely to be involved in a collision." I'm not entirely sure of this one. I know it's an official statistic, but I don't know how they eliminated the self-biasing sample problem. Aren't the arseholes who do that the negligent, over-confident, self-important ones? Doesn't that make them more likely to be involved in accidents? Are the same kind of idiots four times more likely to be involved in an accident while on the phone, or only four times more likely than the average driver not on a phone? Entirely correct or not, it's not something you should tell the grieving mother above at the funeral, and not something you should say to a stranger's dog while passing in the street or a way to start a conversation at the gym. If someone asks you why you turn your phone off before driving, though, or why you just snatched his phone out of his hand and threw it in the ditch, it's a good answer.
"You're dying of cancer." If this is delivered in a mocking tone to someone already aware of the fact and the dying patient does not have an M14 with which to batter the speaker around the head, I'm happy to provide an air rifle for this purpose. If a doctor has to deliver this information, though, it has to be delivered. If the patient needs to be reminded of this so that the conversation can turn from planning a wedding anniversary holiday three years away to setting up a fund to get the children through college, then the patient has to be reminded.

Let me just grab a term from TV: "explosive revelations." Okay with that? Right. Now let me jump from "revelations" to "explosive." It's a bit of a jump, I admit, but I brought a jet pack. Jet-pack jumps from explosives to revelations are not a good idea, but as I'm jumping to the explosives, I should be fine.

Explosives. There's a dead tree, blown halfway over in a storm, hung in the branches of another tree and threatening to fall any time. I'm not about to climb it with a chainsaw and try to take it apart a bit at a time. All those tonnes of wood, all those compression and tension and shear stresses, all those snag points and pointy bits and so on, me and a chainsaw? No thankyou. What I am going to do, though, is go up there and drill into it, pack in some explosive charges on long fuses and retreat to a very respectable distance. Dead tree comes apart. Chunks fall in local area. Threat neutralised. There's a huge snowpack building on the mountain. The weather forecast is for exactly the conditions that'll turn it into a massive wind-slab on top of a massive sun-slab, and it'll be big enough to come all the way into town. Oh, no it won't! I'm going to blow it up *now* before it gets that big. Our solar panels require rare earth elements found in deep layers far under mountains. We could go down there and chip away at the rocks with picks, hoping they won't fall on us, or we could drill into the rocks, put in explosive charges, get out of the mine and blow the rocks apart down there from a distance then go back in to shovel pieces. All good so far. Know why there are no public litter bins in King's Cross Station in London? If there were concrete shells with steel bins in them and people shoved empty lunch boxes and whatever else into those all the time, the pIRA or some offshoot would have put a bomb into one, turning the concrete and steel into lethal flying fragments. It's easier to sweep up litter all the time than to clean up that mess. This mess? Largely achieved using explosives. Unexploded cluster-bomb sub-munitions all over southern Lebanon? They're dangerous because they contain explosives. Why they look so much like pokeballs you'd have to ask someone else, but the threat they pose is one of explosion. This is also true of things that are (officially) meant to be unexploded munitions and pose a threat of explosion when disturbed: land mines. How do we get rid of them? With explosives.

So are explosives evil? Shocking? Horrendous? Too terrible to contemplate?

If you want to ask whether there are things so terrible to know that we'd be better off never finding out ... well, maybe there are. Some of us handle horror better than others, of course. Please distinguish, though, between things that are terrible to know and things that we currently can't learn without doing terrible things. Some of us are better off never watching Blood Diamond or Munich but that doesn't mean anyone who does watch them has to do terrible things to understand the plot of either film.
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Re: Actually it's about ethics in research

Postby Fractal_Tangent » Tue Aug 04, 2015 7:30 am UTC

You should have read further, Sabredog left and we've moved on to ethics in research, actually.
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