September 7, 2014: Twelve University of Minnesota Faculty Senators’ Letter of Concern Regarding the AAHRPP Review of Clinical Research

On September 7, 2014, twelve faculty senators wrote to Vice President Brian Herman and Professor William Durfee and expressed concern about the ongoing review of human subjects research at the university. They wrote, “Although the resolution passed by the Senate and supported by President Kaler called for a review of present policies and practices, it has been clear to us that a review can serve the stated purpose of clearing the cloud of suspicion about the treatment of vulnerable human subjects only if it also looks at relevant aspects of the past. In particular, an investigation of ‘present practices’ needs to include how the University has dealt and is dealing with—including learning from—serious allegations concerning past practices.” They added, “Our intention of communicating that conviction to the review team has, however, come up against concerns regarding conflicts of interest on the part both of members of the review team and of AAHRPP, which selected the team and is supervising the review. Put simply: we are convinced that a credible review would need to investigate the Markingson case, but that such an investigation would itself need to be credible, especially in light of the history of the University’s appealing to clearly noncredible reviews as supposedly exonerating; and the conflicts of interest raise serious questions about the credibility of the present review.” The senators concluded their letter by stating their intention “to put on the record our sense that the review is not proceeding in a way that seems likely to satisfy the principal requirements behind the resolution we brought to the Senate: for a genuinely credible, independent review that takes a hard look at how the University dealt—and continues to deal—with activities that are widely perceived as profound breaches of ethical responsibility.”

Teri L. Caraway, Cesare Casarino, Francis Harvey, Amy Kaminsky, Rick McCormick, William Messing, Kevin P. Murphy, David Pellow, Riv-Ellen Prell, Naomi Scheman, JB Shank, Karen-Sue Taussig, Letter to Vice President Brian Herman and Professor Will Durfee, September 7, 2014.

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