Research Integrity Series

Beginning in April of 2015, the Research Ethics Program launched a series of periodic campus lectures and seminars on the topic of research integrity.

Past Seminars

September 2017:"Systems Matter: Research Environments and Institutional Integrity" with guest speaker C. K. Gunsalus is the Director of the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics (NCPRE), Professor Emerita of Business, and Research Professor at the Coordinated Science Laboratory.

  • Event Synopsis: In recent years, concerns have increased about the reproducibility and integrity of research. Unfortunately, the focus of these concerns too often frames these issues as failures of individual researchers rather than recognizing the role of the system in which these researchers work. For this event, Dr. Gunsalus will highlight key factors that are the biggest threats to the integrity of our research enterprise and offer practical recommendations about how we can do better.

March 2017: "Regulation of International Direct-to-Participant Research" with guest speaker Mark A. Rothstein, J.D., Herbert F. Boehl Chair of Law and Medicine and Director of the Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy, and Law at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. 

  • Event Synopsis: Dr. Rothstein will discuss how the Direct-to-Participant (DTP) research is a novel strategy using the internet to recruit, consent, and enroll individuals. This technique is especially valuable for research on rare disorders. It can be more expeditious, generate more representative and diverse samples, be more participatory and democratic, and lead to discoveries of greater relevance for heterogeneous populations. The main impediments stem from legal, ethical, and cultural concerns about possible exploitation by foreign researchers. This talk will address whether it is possible to use DTP research in a legal and ethical manner around the world.     
March 2016:"The Dual Use Research Dilemma: Realities and Risks,"with guest speaker Francis Macrina, Ph.D., Vice President for Research and Innovation, Virginia Commonwealth University.
  • Event Synopsis: Dr. Macrina discussed the practical and ethical dilemmas that arise when research can be applied to both benefit and harm society. Dual use risk can be seen most clearly in microbiology where research on prevention or treatment of infectious diseases could be misused for the purpose of biological warfare or bioterror. Should certain areas of research be censored? If so, what are the ethical obligations to society that may be hindered by this censorship? When do benefits outweigh risks? 
November 2015: "Emerging Ethics Challenges for Experiemental Social Science" with guest speaker, Scott Desposato, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Sciences, UC San DIego
  • Event synopsis:For most of the history of political science, professional ethics had little to do with human subjects. Over the last 20 years, however, political scientists have widely adopted experimental methods and are now manipulating and interacting directly with subjects in almost every country in the world. While generating valuable new evidence about the political world, this new wave of experimentation has also generated some very public controversies. Scholars have committed crimes to measure police responses, have sent out hundreds of thousands of illegal attack advertisements during campaigns, and have exposed subjects to risk of violence through experiments conducted in authoritarian regimes. Professor Desposato discussed the rise of experiments in political science, the limitations of existing human subjects' paradigms in providing guidance, and a series of proposals to avoid future controversies.

May 2015:"Scientific Discovery and Social Responsibility" with guest speakers Ethan Bier, Ph.D., Biological Sciences at UC San Diego and Valentino Gantz, Ph.D., Biological Sciences at UC San Diego

  • Event synopsis:UCSD biologists, Bier and Gantz, made headlines with their discovery of genomic technology that can change how mutations spread throughout a population. What are the anticipated benefits of this technology? What are the possible direct or indirect harms? How can scientists and the public obtain the benefits of this technology while keeping potential harms in check?

April 2015: "Replication and Trust in Science: What does the Haruko Obokata (STAP) case tell us?" with guest speaker, Floyd E. Bloom, Professor Emeritus in the Molecular and Integrative Neuroscience Department at TThe Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA.

  • Event synopsis:Scientists are trained to trust other scientists. That trust is verified through peer-review and replication of experimental results. Yet that process can fall short, as demonstrated by the 2014 retraction of Haruko Obokata’s “stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency” (STAP) paper in Nature. What went wrong? Despite peer review and publication, the work could not be replicated. Later investigations found manipulation of images, plagiarism, and inadequate supervision and involvement by co-authors. Should the peer review process have identified these difficulties prior to publication? Could it have? What does this case tell us going forward?  Do we need more trust in science — or less?