Genomic research results and incidental findings with health implications for a research participant are of potential interest not only to the participant, but also to the participant's family. Yet investigators lack guidance on return of results to relatives, including after the participant's death. In this paper, a national working group offers consensus analysis and recommendations, including an ethical framework to guide investigators in managing this challenging issue, before and after the participant's death.
In qualitative interviews with a diverse group of experts, the vast majority believed unregulated researchers should seek out independent oversight. Reasons included the need for objectivity, protecting app users from research risks, and consistency in standards for the ethical conduct of research. Concerns included burdening minimal risk research and limitations in current systems of oversight. Literature and analysis supports the use of IRBs even when not required by regulations, and the need for evidence-based improvements in IRB processes.
This article is the lead piece in a special report that presents the results of a bioethical investigation into chimeric research, which involves the insertion of human cells into nonhuman animals and nonhuman animal embryos, including into their brains. Rapid scientific developments in this field may advance knowledge and could lead to new therapies for humans. They also reveal the conceptual, ethical, and procedural limitations of existing ethics guidance for human‐nonhuman chimeric research. Led by bioethics researchers working closely with an (...) interdisciplinary work group, the investigation focused on generating conceptual clarity and identifying improvements to governance approaches, with the goal of helping scholars, funders, scientists, institutional leaders, and oversight bodies (embryonic stem cell research oversight [ESCRO] committees and institutional animal care and use committees [IACUCs]) deliver principled and trustworthy oversight of this area of science. The article, which focuses on human‐nonhuman animal chimeric research that is stem cell based, identifies key ethical issues in and offers ten recommendations regarding the ethics and oversight of this research. Turning from bioethics’ previous focus on human‐centered questions about the ethics of “humanization” and this research's potential impact on concepts like human dignity, this article emphasizes the importance of nonhuman animal welfare concerns in chimeric research and argues for less‐siloed governance and oversight and more‐comprehensive public communication. (shrink)
We surveyed IRB chairs' perspectives on offering individual genetic research results to participants and families, including family members of deceased participants, and the IRB's role in addressing these issues. Given a particular hypothetical scenario, respondents favored offering results to participants but not family members, giving choices at the time of initial consent, and honoring elicited choices. They felt IRBs should have authority regarding the process issues, but a more limited role in medical and scientific issues.
The Common Rule originally issued in 1991 and last amended in 2005 is scheduled to be replaced on January 19, 2018 by a revised Common Rule. The goal of the revisions is to modernize and improve applicability of the rule to a research landscape that has dramatically changed since 1991. Translating these changes into action will require comprehensive understanding of the final rule and detailed implementation planning by Human Research Protection Programs. This paper presents select changes that require substantial attention; (...) including for example: expansion of the exempt category, changes to continuing review requirements, changes to the informed consent form and the use of single IRBs for domestic multi-site research. In addition, myriad policies, procedures and workflows will have to be developed, drastically rewritten, or just mildly tweaked. (shrink)
Returning genomic research results to family members raises complex questions. Genomic research on life-limiting conditions such as cancer, and research involving storage and reanalysis of data and specimens long into the future, makes these questions pressing. This author group, funded by an NIH grant, published consensus recommendations presenting a framework. This follow-up paper offers concrete guidance and tools for implementation. The group collected and analyzed relevant documents and guidance, including tools from the Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research Consortium. The authors then (...) negotiated a consensus toolkit of processes and documents. That toolkit offers sample consent and notification documents plus decision flow-charts to address return of results to family of living and deceased participants, in adult and pediatric research. Core concerns are eliciting participant preferences on sharing results with family and on choice of a representative to make decisions about sharing after participant death. (shrink)
Genomic research may uncover results that have direct actionable benefit to the individual. An emerging debate is the degree to which researchers may have responsibility to offer results to the biological relatives of the research participant. In a companion study to one carried out in the United States, we describe the attitudes of Canadian Research Ethics Board chairs to this issue and their opinions as to the role of the REB in developing related policy.