Faculty Senate reviews human subject research report

The report found shortfalls in some of the University’s research practices involving human participants.

by Haley Hansen

About 60 members of the University of Minnesota’s Faculty Senate met Friday afternoon to discuss a human subject research program report released last week, which found serious flaws in the school’s human research practices.

Most faculty members were pleased with the report’s depth and thoroughness, but some faculty and community members voiced continued concerns that the University isn’t taking enough responsibility for past controversies within the program.

The report was publically released last week by an external committee that reviewed how the University protects human subjects with diminished functional abilities.

The Faculty Senate passed a resolution in December 2013 calling for an external review of clinical research practices involving human subjects at the University, following years of criticism with the program after a human test subject committed suicide in 2004.

Associate bioethics professor Leigh Turner, who has been critical of the third-party review team managing the report since it was announced last year, raised concern that the University hasn’t adequately responded to issues he says have been happening within the program for years.

University President Eric Kaler said the school plans to implement many of the review team’s recommendations, including changes to the Institutional Review Board, which evaluates research projects that involve human subjects to ensure participant protections.

“I am committed personally to making this human subject research program the best in the country,” Kaler said at the meeting.

Former Faculty Consultative Committee Chair Will Durfee said he appreciated the report, and recognized that some recommendations may take a while to be fully implemented.

“What’ll be more important is to look at where we are, say, a year from now,” he said.

Read Monday’s Daily for more reactions to the report.