Bioethics prof: Is the U of M picking a lightweight research reviewer?


University of Minnesota bioethics professor Leigh Turner writes on his blog, Health in the Global Village, that the university’s agreement to hold an outside review of the U’s clinical research practices seems hollow.

(The call for a review came amid lingering questions over university practices during a 2004 drug study, in which a patient committed suicide.)

Turner writes the U recently put out a request for bids on its MBid website for contractors who would conduct the review — a move he says indicates the university has no intention of taking a thorough look at the matter:

Unless the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues routinely trolls for contracts on the MBID website, it is unlikely that the kind of organization that registers with MBID is going to have the expertise, credibility, investigative powers, and forensic skills needed to conduct a thorough of investigation of numerous reports of psychiatric research misconduct.

This is not a job for a local business consulting firm, contract research organization, or independent ethics consultant.

Admittedly, if the University hires an organization with the stature and forensic skills of Louis Freeh and his company, as Penn State did during its investigation of child sexual abuse by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, there will at least be basis for thinking that the “contractor” is credible.

But I do not anticipate the University awarding the bid to Freeh or anyone else with his investigative skills.

Turner says he also believes the U will take advantage of the “poor wording” of the Faculty Senate’s resolution calling for such a review to sidestep the actual intent of the resolution.

You can read his full commentary here.

Turner isn’t the only one to have voiced concerns over the review.

I have asked campus officials for a response.