… in the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that the most charitable description of what’s been going on at the clubby University of Minnesota medical school would be “bizarre.”
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Brian Leiter Calls Out University of Minnesota Administration
"a quite brazen attack on the core of academic freedom"
The University of Minnesota "Clinical Trials" Fiasco--and the Apparent Attempt to Silence Faculty Critics
This is a somewhat complicated story, but here's the condensed version: a clinical trial of an antipsychotic medication at the University of Minnesota in 2003 resulted in the death of a patient; bioethicist Carl Elliott at Minnesota investigated, concluding that the patient should not have been enrolled, and that the clinical trial itself was run by doctors with financial ties to the drug manufacturer sponsoring the clinical trial, and that many such trials are really aimed at marketing the drug, not testing its safety: you can read Professor Elliott's detailed analysis of what happened. Professor Elliott and others appealed to the University's Board of Trustees to investigate. Now the University's General Counsel is trying to stop faculty from pursuing this matter! This latest development--a quite brazen attack on the core of academic freedom (Professor Elliott is both eminently qualified [he is both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in philosophy and a well-known bioethicist] to investigate this matter and it falls squarely within his core research interests)--is discussed here. (There are also stories in CHE and in IHE.) This blog also offers a useful timeline of the recent events :
November 23, 2010. Eight professors and bioethicists submit a letter to the Regents requesting an independent investigation into the death of Dan Markingson while he was participating in a clinical trial at the University. See Faculty Letter at http://ptable.blogspot.com/2010/12/university-of-minnesota-faculty-letter.html#links.December 10, 2010. General Counsel Mark Rotenberg meets with the Regents regarding the request. See U of M Attorney at http://ptable.blogspot.com/2010/12/dan-markingsons-suicide-u-of-m-attorney.html#links.February 7, 2011. Regents deny request for independent investigation. See Regents Play Innocent at http://ptable.blogspot.com/2011/02/regents-play-innocent-regents-are.html#links.February 24, 2011. General Counsel Rotenberg submits to the FCC [the faculty council] the following question: What is the faculty's collective role in addressing factually incorrect attacks on particular U faculty research activities? FCC refers the question to the AF & T Committee. See the February 24 report of the FCC at http://conservancy.umn.edu/bitstream/101836/1/11_02_24FCC.pdf.This is a case where the University President needs to exercise some real leadership, including, at a minimum, instructing the General Counsel to back off. This whole episode is also indicative of how important tenure is to protect faculty whose research adversely affects corporate interests.
Posted by Brian Leiter on April 28, 2011 at 02:16 PM in Academic Freedom, Philosophy in the News, The Academy | Permalink
at 4:20 PM