Before deciding on a case to discuss, I first browsed through every case listed on the Office of Research Integrity website to get an overall sense of what types of ethical misconduct have been reported throughout the years. My initial thought was surprisingly positive because there are few cases listed, which may be a good sign that most researchers practice with integrity. Unfortunately, I found that most cases come from schools of medicine, which is concerning because medical science researchers help to inform policy by providing the public with legitimate claims. Additionally, cases with a medical component are possibly basing their samples on vulnerable populations, such as older adults or folks living with a physical or cognitive impairment. This further supports my concerns regarding dissemination of misinformation because of researchers’ lack of sensitivity for participants’ unique health risks. To clarify, life expectancy for older adults and for individuals living with certain diseases is lower compared to relatively younger and healthier individuals. If there are few options for improving one’s quality of life, a person may feel strongly inclined to participate in research that is aiming to do just that.
One specific case stood out to me and it is the claim that a researcher at a medical center in New York defrauded his sponsors and even plead guilty to negligent homicide because of his misconduct. Upon his sentencing, he also received a charge for lying on his job application when asked if he had ever been charged with a felony. The felony is unrelated to his research, but it does make me question the overall integrity of this individual. This case is one example of vulnerable populations being exploited for the sake of producing favorable research. In the end justice prevailed; this person is no longer allowed to conduct research and has been debarred from his post at the medical center in New York.