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Does Your Average Scientist Need an Ethicist on Call?

Does Your Average Scientist Need an Ethicist on Call?

Source: Scientific American

Ethical dilemmas in research are nothing new; what is new is that scientists can go to formal ethics consultancies to get advice. Unlike the standard way that scientists receive ethical guidance, through institutional review boards (IRBs), these services offer non-binding counsel. And because they do not form part of the regulatory process, they can weigh in on a wider range of issues — from mundane matters of informed consent and study protocol to controversial topics such as the use of experimental Ebola treatments — and offer more creative solutions. But many scientists either do not know that they exist or fear using them because they could add red tape to an already heavy administrative burden. And this year, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) scrapped funding for a working group to support ethics-consultation services and to develop best practices for the profession. Although financial support could return in some form, ethicists are not waiting around for it. Dr. Benjamin Wilfond, director of the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children's in Washington, has set up the Clinical Research Ethics Consultation Collaborative, a group of around 35 bioethicists who hope to keep improving the consultation service model, even without NIH support.

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s mission is to provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. Together, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Research Institute and Foundation deliver superior patient care, identify new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients.

Ranked as one of the top children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – the largest region of any children’s hospital in the country. As one of the nation's top five pediatric research centers, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is internationally recognized for its work in neurosciences, immunology, cancer, infectious disease, injury prevention and much more. Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation works with the Seattle Children’s Guild Association, the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care and research.

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