Editorial Highlights Need for Changes in Ethics of Biomedical Research

Seattle Children’s Research Institute bioethicists urge scientific community to address long-standing systemic shortcomings

Today bioethicists from Seattle Children’s Research Institute urged the medical research community to reexamine its current practices and culture that allowed a researcher to publish fabricated data in a study that, in turn, created a worldwide scare over a supposed link between autism and the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. In a British Medical Journal (BMJ), editorial accompanying a series of reports in the publication, Douglas J. Opel, MD, MPH, Douglas S. Diekema, MD and Edgar K. Marcuse, MD of Seattle Children’s Research Institute stressed the need for the medical research community to address the multiple system failures involved within the biomedical research enterprise that permitted such egregious misconduct.

The authors outline an approach to framing research incidents, such as those examined in the BMJ analysis, as adverse events, akin to clinical adverse events. The editorial emphasizes that the medical community already has the tools for investigating adverse events, and the system malfunctions that allow them to occur.

Opel and co-authors also urged the research community to rethink and reform the customs and culture in which research is conducted and reported. “The disastrous impact that this study has had on vaccine coverage, recrudescence of disease, public trust, and, most of all, science, requires that we make these changes in haste,” the editorial reports.

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Foundation and Research Institute together deliver superior patient care, advance new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients. Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s Hospital specializes in meeting the unique physical, emotional and developmental needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. Through the collaboration of physicians in nearly 60 pediatric subspecialties, Seattle Children’s Hospital provides inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic, surgical, rehabilitative, behavioral, and emergency and outreach services to families from around the world.

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention, bioethics and much more.

Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation and Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association work together to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care, clinical care and research. The foundation receives nearly 80,000 gifts each year, from lemonade stand proceeds to corporate sponsorships. Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association is the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, serving as the umbrella organization for 450 groups of people who turn an activity they love into a fundraiser. Support from the foundation and guild association makes it possible for Seattle Children’s care and research teams to improve the health and well-being of all kids.

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