Penn Fellowship in Advanced Medical Ethics

The Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine invites applications for a new postdoctoral Fellowship in Advanced Biomedical Ethics, beginning in September 2013.  The mission of this 2-year Fellowship is to train scholars and future leaders in academic biomedical ethics.  Fellows will participate fully in the life of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, which is among the world’s leading bioethics departments.  They will have full access to the intellectual resources of the larger Penn community.

Applications are invited from scholars with doctoral degrees in hand (PhDs or equivalent, JDs, MDs), or who will have received such degrees by September 2013.  Doctorates may be in any relevant field, including but not limited to philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, economics or anthropology.

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Should Researchers Have a Professional Code of Ethics?

by Suzanne M. Rivera, Ph.D.

I was giving a workshop presentation at the annual meeting of the National Council of University Research Administrators and my co-presenter raised an interesting idea. Tommy Coggins of the University of South Carolina was talking about the importance of integrity for preserving the public’s trust in the research enterprise, and he pointed out that, unlike physicians, attorneys, and accountants, researchers do not have a unifying professional code of ethics.  Instead, they are subject to a patchwork of regulations, policies and laws, most of which were promulgated by grant funding agencies and therefore are enforceable only in cases where tax payer dollars are involved.  Although discipline-specific societies, such as the American Psychological Association, have their own ethics codes, researchers as a profession are not asked to adhere to a shared set of standards for their conduct.

And it’s true— there is no unifying code that all researchers (spanning the range of disciplines from anthropology to zoology) must swear to uphold.  And maybe it’s not realistic to expect that people whose jobs entail such a variety of different activities (working with data sets, lasers, yeast, mice, human participants, super colliders, etc.) could find sufficient common ground on which to cobble together a code.  But I wonder if it’s worth a try.  Given the current atmosphere of distrust that has resulted in new rules for increased transparency and oversight of researchers’ financial interests, perhaps the time is right to think explicitly about ethical standards for research.  Not merely avoiding “FFP” misconduct, but an affirmative duty to behave with integrity.

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Bending the Cost Curve, Not Just Talking About It

By Nicolas Terry

When the 2012 history of health care is written, which date will have the largest entry, November 5 or 6? Of course, many (but not that many) provisions of the Affordable Care Act will live or die depending on how the election affects control of the White House and Senate. But, November 5 may end up having more significance because that is the date Massachusetts’s new health care spending legislation, here, takes effect.

Signed into law by Governor Patrick on August 6, 2012, the new law now has its own website, here, the promise of a a ton of data, here, and in Brandeis University economist Stuart Altman, here, a chair for its Health Policy Commission (HPC).

Thomas Lee, here, notes “the 349-page law that was just passed in Massachusetts created 25 new boards, task forces, and commissions, and 266 new appointees are going to be enlisted to monitor and enforce compliance with spending caps, oversee provider performance improvement plans, and certify Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).”

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Reminder, TODAY – Advances in HIV Prevention: Legal, Clinical, and Public Health Issues

Austin Hall, Room 111
Harvard Law School

On July 3, 2012, FDA approved OraQuick, the first at-home HIV test available for sale directly to consumers, allowing individuals to self-test and receive confidential results in about 20 minutes. Then on July 16, FDA approved once-daily Truvada, an already-approved HIV therapy, as the first agent approved for pre-exposure prophylaxis in uninfected, at-risk adults. These developments represent dramatic changes in the fight against HIV, and raise a host of legal, clinical, and public health issues. Please join us for a panel discussion of these issues with some of the preeminent leaders in the field, moderated by Robert Greenwald, Director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School:

  • Douglas A. Michels, President and CEO, OraSure Technologies, Inc.
  • David Piontkowsky, Senior Director for Medical Affairs, HIV and HIV Global Medical Director, Gilead Sciences, Inc.
  • Kenneth H. Mayer, Medical Research Director, Co-Chair of The Fenway Institute
  • Kevin Cranston, Director, Bureau of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • Mark Barnes, Senior Associate Provost, University Chief Research Compliance Officer, Harvard University

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch and refreshments will be served. Co-sponsored by the Petrie-Flom Center, the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, and the Fenway Institute.