U to institute new clinical research protocols

University of Minnesota

The wheels of justice grind along slowly. In the Star Tribune, Jeremy Olson reports: “The University of Minnesota unveiled a plan Monday to improve the ethics oversight of clinical research by reorganizing the Institutional Review Board that determines whether studies are safe, reassigning who investigates claims of researcher misconduct, and reassessing how vulnerable patients are recruited to studies. … The recommendations come 11 years to the month after Dan Markingson died by suicide while enrolled in a drug trial at the U that compared three antipsychotic drugs — a case that has become a touchstone for the ethics and conduct of the university’s psychiatry department.”

This is sure to foul up the economy. “This year’s avian influenza outbreak has already cost outstate Minnesota nearly $310 million, according to an analysis released Monday by University of Minnesota Extension,” reports MPR’s John Collins. “The report’s authors used economic modeling to show the ripple effects of the poultry deaths, including lost income and business-to-business spending. The study found that for every $1 million loss in poultry production, $230,000 of demand for poultry feed is also lost.”

Education funding showdown progressing as expected. The Pioneer Press’ Christopher Magan tells us, “Early Monday morning the Minnesota House passed an education spending plan that is unlikely to become law. Gov. Mark Dayton promised to veto the $400 million in new spending passed by the Republican-controlled House because it does not include his top priority of universal half-day preschool.”

And as long as he’s got that veto pen handy … “Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto wants Gov. Mark Dayton to bring down a wide-ranging state government funding bill over a provision that shifts audit powers away from her,” according to the AP [via WCCO]. “The third-term Democrat is criticizing a clause allowing counties to hire private accounting firms to do financial audits now undertaken by her office.”

In further veto-watch news, AP [in the St. Cloud Times] also reports, “Gov. Mark Dayton isn’t ready to back a compromise plan requiring buffer zones between farmland and Minnesota waterways. … A tentative agreement reached early Sunday morning would require 50-foot buffers along public rivers and lakes and a smaller setback along private ditches. Farmers would have between five and seven years to comply. … Dayton says that’s too long.

In other news…

State Sen. Dave Brown has had enough. The Republican won’t seek a third term, citing demands of his regular day job. [St. Cloud Times]

Minneapolis is the most bikeable city in the U.S., according to Walk Score. Take that, Portland! [Redfin]

A check-in with the entrepreneurs who are revitalizing West Broadway, block by block. [Star Tribune]

Craft beer? That’s so last year. Say hello to craft condiments. [Urban Oasis]

What’s going on in St. Paul these days? A new EarthCam lets you check it out without leaving your keyboard. [EarthCam]

Get your say about the future of Minneapolis’ Bossen field: “Minneapolis Park Board Taking Comments on Bossen Field Updates” [KSTP]

UND men’s hockey coach Dave Hakstol leaving to coach the Philadelphia Flyers. [Inforum]

“Photos: A look at Bunyan territory in 1939” [MPR]

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/18/2015 - 05:09 pm.

    WMA ethical guidelines on research with human subjects

    (WMA = World Medical Association)

    See http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/b3/ for the World Medical Association’s ethical guidelines and compare with the behavior of the U of MN in the Markingson case.

    It took “bioethicists on campus…the state Legislative Auditor, and… the Faculty Senate” raising up complaints about the issues to result in these recommendations, over the persistent objections of the leadership of the University administration and the Department involved.

    Regarding the costs of implementing the recommendations…

    “Hiring staff, paying IRB members and increasing ethics training would add more than $2 million in annual expenditures. The committee also recommended spending $5 million on an electronic IRB system for filing and reviewing research proposals.”

    Both of these seem well worth the price. Surely, with the massive expansion of the University’s administrative staff and resources in recent years, this expense can be viewed as a drop in the bucket. It very well may save lives.

    But it also is a step in the right direction for this administration and the department involved. Why not get in line with widely accepted norms of ethical behavior ?? It’s not going to be as painful as they think.

  2. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 05/18/2015 - 06:35 pm.

    Wheels of Justice?

    Talk about biased reporting. Repeated probes have shown no bad intent save ineptitutude. There is no crime, but they are responding. Give it a rest, there is no scandal here save the every twenty year anti U medical school jihad. Wish the media put the same scrutiny on some of the Mayo mishaps.

    • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 05/19/2015 - 06:42 am.

      I tried, for a whole day, to not touch this one,

      especially after yesterday’s piece in the MinnPost about comments.

      But this is too much.

      Some thoughts that come to mind.

      You know that the U gave Paul Tosto and Jeremy Olson the Primack award for investigative journalism because of their work on the Markingson case?

      And that Maura Lerner and colleagues uncovered the Furcht mess

      link: http://strib.mn/1PuTVaU

      because she knew the right questions to ask to extract info from the U? I failed in my amateurish attempts to do this. This is an example of the value to society of a free and professional press. It is a lot easier to stonewall a faculty member at the U, than it is to do this to a professional journalist.

      And of course it was not journalists who got the U into trouble with NIH for their behavior during what has, rightly or wrongly, become known as the Najarian affair.

      The U is not in trouble today because of some sort of vendetta by the media.

      I think they have been very kind to the U, all things considered.

      William B. Gleason, PhD
      retired U of M faculty and alum

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