University of Minnesota hosts “Research with Human Participants: The National Debates”

On Wednesday, December 2, the University of Minnesota will host a national conference on “Research with Human Participants: The National Debates” at Coffman Memorial Union.
The conference brings together leading experts – researchers, policymakers, bioethicists, patient advocates and other stakeholders – from across the country to discuss the national debates on research with human participants and current thinking on best practices. The conference is sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences. The University's human research protection policies have been in the news, and an external review this spring suggested reforms to the way the University assesses, approves and monitors research with human participants. Those reforms are now being implemented.

"Our faculty planning committee recruited some of the nation’s most eminent experts on research with human participants to analyze current debates and recommendations,” said Professor Susan M. Wolf, Chair of the Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences. “This conference will present multiple points of view, inviting dialogue and exchange including our in-person and webcast audience. Having meaningful conversations about best practices and the implications of our work as researchers is vital.”
“Hosting this conference at the University of Minnesota emphasizes our core commitment of advancing research while protecting human research participants, which includes respecting their rights – including informed consent – and ensuring effective oversight of all research involving human participants,” said Brian Herman, Vice President for Research at the U of M. “The challenges related to this area of research are not unique to one organization; they are national in scope. The conversations that will take place at this conference are particularly timely given the federal government’s proposed revisions of the Common Rule, the guidelines for research with human participants.”
The conference will feature remarks by University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler and presentations by speakers including Jeffrey Botkin, MD, MPH, Associate Vice President for Research Integrity, University of Utah, and Chair, Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Scott Kim, MD, PhD, Senior Investigator, Department of Bioethics, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, and Professor of Psychiatry, University of Michigan; and Vanessa Northington Gamble, MD, PhD, University Professor of Medical Humanities, Professor of American Studies, George Washington University, and former-Chair, Tuskegee Syphilis Study Legacy Committee. The conference will also feature panel discussions with national and local speakers and the opportunity for the audience and those viewing via webcast to join in the conversation and ask questions on the following topics:

  • The National Debates on Research with Human Participants: Issues & Choices
  • Consent to Research When Participants Have Diminished or Fluctuating Decisional Capacity
  • Multiple Perspectives on the National Debates & Consent Challenges
  • Community Roles in Research
  • Conflicts of Interest & Industry Sponsorship
  • Research with Vulnerable and Underrepresented Populations

A full agenda and speaker biographies can be found at
“Research with Human Participants: The National Debates” is free and open to the public. Registration for in-person attendance is currently full, but registrants can sign up for the live webcast. Those wishing to attend in person can join the wait list here.  
The following individuals are available for comment to the media on issues in research ethics:

Susan M. Wolf, JD is the McKnight Presidential Professor of Law, Medicine & Public Policy; Faegre Baker Daniels Professor of Law; and Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota. She is Chair of the University’s Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences. Professor Wolf is an expert on research ethics, law and medicine, and bioethics. She chaired the faculty planning committee for the conference.
Jeffrey R. Botkin, MD, MPH is Chair of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP), the body that advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on topics related to the protection of human research participants. He is Chief of the Division of Medical Ethics & Humanities, Associate Vice President for Research Integrity, and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah. He is an expert on research ethics and policy, including pediatric research. 
Scott Y. H. Kim, MD, PhD is a Senior Investigator in the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center. Dr. Kim is an expert in research ethics, especially the ethics of psychiatric research, issues raised by involving decisionally impaired persons in research, and the ethics of high-risk research. Dr. Kim is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, where he has served as Co-Director of the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine.
Steven H. Miles, MD is Professor of Medicine and Bioethics and Maas Family Endowed Chair in Bioethics at the University of Minnesota. He is board certified in internal medicine. Dr. Miles has served as President of the American Society for Bioethics & Humanities and received its Distinguished Service Award. He is an expert on research ethics and on medical ethics and human rights.
To attend the conference, media should RSVP to Evan Lapiska, University News Service, 612-625-7134,

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