SU wins NIH grant for major study of research ethics
SU wins NIH grant for major study of research ethicsNovember 26, 2003Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
In a March 2000 article published by the Society for Risk Analysis, Syracuse University researcher Dianne Quigley and her co-authors assessed a Department of Energy (DOE) study of the effects of nuclear weapons testing and radiation exposures on Native American communities in Nevada, where there was an unusual spate of cancer cases.
In the article, Quigley’s group points out that the scientific analyses conducted by the DOE were inadequate because they omitted valuable input from the Native American community and did not take lifestyle and dietary habits into consideration.
“Our interdisciplinary team of public health, social science, biomedical and behavioral researchers has produced many new resources and training opportunities dealing with complex ethical issues in community health research, particularly in a cross-cultural context,” says Quigley. “We are committed to promoting and providing assistance to community-based participatory research approaches that incorporate community controls, community needs and benefits, and community knowledge in the design of health research.”
Quigley says her team’s review of the Nevada study is just one example of the need for an improved understanding of ethics and methodologies in environmental health research, particularly research involving underserved and minority populations. To further that understanding, Quigley is guiding her team’s work on a $600,000, three-year grant from the National Institute of Health. The award is a continuation of a $500,000 grant that Quigley received in fall 2000.
Quigley, a doctoral student in the Department of Religion in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences, is principal investigator on project, titled “Short Courses in Research Ethics and Environmental Health.”
SU religion professors Ann Grodzins-Gold and Ernest Wallwork serve as ethical reviewers. Other team members are from the Southeast Community Research Center, Morehouse College, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Alameda County, Calif. Health Services, Brown University and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
Quigley used the 2000 grant to establish the Collaborative Initiative for Research Ethics in Environmental Health and assembled the interdisciplinary team to begin the process of identifying key ethical issues integral to training and policy development. The team has developed research ethics courses at three of the collaborating universities; published articles and case studies; led local, regional and national workshops on ethics training; and hosted a national conference aimed at fostering dialogue for improving research ethics in environmental health. The project has focused on research ethics with culturally diverse populations, including Native American, Southeast Asian, African American and urban Chinese populations.
Beginning this fall, researchers are expanding their work to other geographic locations and in promoting research protections for underserved African American, Hispanic and other culturally diverse communities in the Southern and Northeastern United States. Team members will also work on improving the ethical conduct of radiation research and risk assessment for people affected by Cold War radiation experiments, conducting a collaborative ethical review of investigations of these populations done since 1990. Radiation health researchers, nuclear workers and involved citizens will be included in the review process.
The team will also continue to develop case studies and course materials for resolving moral uncertainties, and work to further establish group and community rights in the ethical conduct of research. In addition, Quigley’s group of ethicists will offer national outreach and training on research ethics issues in environmental health, with a focus on diverse populations. For more information, visit http://www.researchethics.org.