U counsel's question to faculty causes a flap

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS and TONY KENNEDY , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: May 13, 2011 - 9:30 PM

An effort to revisit a U study that led to man's suicide in '04 ignites debate over academic freedom.

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hobie2May. 14, 11 2:04 AM

A lawyer in an ethics discussion is like having a pimp advise on gender issues. They both have heard of their subject, but their role is not to seek the fair path or establish the ethics for the subject matter... Just because lawyers are versed in the law does not mean they have any background in justice or in bioethics - a lawyers job is to advise on matters of law and act as an advocate for their client- a role not even close to determining matters of academic ethics. As they said day one in law school - "this is about law, not justice. Don't get the two confused."

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meegwichMay. 14, 11 5:23 AM

"Rotenberg said he never intended to threaten Elliott or any faculty member - and that he drew up the question because faculty requested his input." If you're claiming or inferring inaccuracy's in information perhaps Mr. Rotenberg should have provided the names of the "faculty" that requested his input; otherwise, it's just his "deep throat" operative that will be referred to as an unnamed source.After reading Professor's Elliott's wrenching account of what happened to Dan Markingson and every other "subject" used for marketing purposes, Mr. Rotenberg perhaps needs a refresher course in legal 101. Namely, get the facts straight before opening your mouth, and never ask a question you don't already know the answer too. Claiming inaccuracy's in facts without producing contrary evidence seems to be how the University of Minnesota handles most controversies and attempted cover-ups. It would certainly appear that the State legislators [acting without a conflict-of-interest] saw the overwhelming need to take corrective legal measures and prohibit the condoned conduct of certain faculty at the University. From following this tragic case for years now, what else would one expect from the legal counsel. Even if they were presented with overwhelming evidence contrary to their exonerated stance, they would/could do nothing but deny, deny, deny.

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juliehauerMay. 14, 11 7:17 AM

It is important that such discussions do take place. It seems Dr. Elliott is the one looking to suppress an open dialogue. He posed concerns in an article. It is just as appropriate that concerns about inaccuracies be reviewed. The question about accountability of the faculty/academic center seems valid.

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cashncareyMay. 14, 11 8:55 AM

Why is this news? We don't care about a bunch of whining, overpaid liberal professors. If they don't like it, leave. Try to get a cushy job in the private sector. They have it made now. In the private sector, they would have to work.

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ebenezerMay. 14, 11 9:22 AM

Thank you for your article, Mr. Elliot. The public needs more of this type of disclosure.

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wbgleasonMay. 14, 11 9:25 AM

Why is this news? Who cares? A lot of patients should... "attorneys deposed the director of the U's Institutional Review Board (IRB) or research subjects ethical review committee, Moira Keane. The attorney asked what she thought was a routine question--didn't the IRB have the responsibility to protect human research subjects?--before proceeding to the issues under dispute. But Ms. Keane refused to admit that the IRB had any such responsibility. The attorney thought she had misunderstood (after all, the U-MN website says the purpose of the IRB is to "protect the rights and welfare of human research subjects") but Ms. Keane stood firm. In the end, all she would admit was that it was the role of the IRB to make sure that research investigators at the U had a plan to protect human research subjects. As Dr. Elliott then notes, this is as good as saying that the IRB at U-MN doesn't do a thing--since it was precisely to protect human subjects from the dangers of an overzealous investigator that IRBs were first created." Source: Hooked- Ethics, Medicine, and Pharma Dr. Howard Brody: http://bit.ly/bz6Ss5

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cognoscenteMay. 14, 11 9:26 AM

If the question were taken at face value it might result in a productive dialog about the roles and responsibilities of university staff. However the issue has transformed from how to improve the process to attacking the individual. Even if his intentions were not completely honorable the reaction and response by staff is also unproductive. They both appear to have hidden agenda. When this happens the students and public suffer. Shape up University Professors and rise above your fears.

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psc56stribMay. 14, 11 9:40 AM

Roterberg's "factually incorrect" question was just a smoke screen to obfuscate the reality of this controversy. There is little or no disagreement about the "facts" Mr Elliott shined the light on. Mr Elliott's conclusions (opinions, not facts) about the propriety, ethics, and legality of the way the study was managed and conducted are what the U has always disputed. The FDA and MN AG's contrary conclusions only highlighted the low standards of propriety and ethics in the applicable regulations and law. The passing of "Dan's Law" by the legislature was an attempt to improve the standards of propriety and ethics that the U should always have had.

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godllubMay. 14, 1110:10 AM

Great post wbgleason Why is this news? Who cares? A lot of patients should.---Another reason is the elephant in the room is the escalating costs of drugs and health care. The large drug companies expect and receive tax payer subsidies to provide them creditability and conformation of their forgone conclusions. The fox is running the hen house. The professors have not only the right but the obligation to keep the donors at arms length.

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trancedocMay. 14, 1110:56 AM

An expert in ethics is not an expert in truth. We all have personal biases that influence our beliefs. Assuming that the Minnesota Attorney General and the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice are weak because they do not agree with your opinion is tenuous at best. An ethics professor publishing an article in an avowed liberal publication for investigative journalism is not the same as publishing an article in a peer reviewed professional journal. Does academic freedom also cover professors if they publish in the National Enquirer? The State Legislature passed a law. Since when are politicians unbiased and the purveyors of truth? I have no comment on the actual conduct of this research and the bad outcome. What I take to task is the blurring of truth and ethics. Again, they are not the same.

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