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Nov 30, 2006

Biotech Collaborations with Academic Centers: A Conflict of Interest?

  • Government control of science seems to be a growing trend as evidenced by the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and by mandates about how National Institutes of Health researchers and staffs may invest their money. Biotechnology industry partnerships with universities and academic centers have been fruitful for both. So why is there so much concern about conflict of interest and is that concern appropriate?

    This weeks GEN podcast will try to answer these questions. Dr. Thomas Stossel is co-director of the hematology division at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. A long-time and ardent supporter of industrial/academic collaborations, he says critics of these relationships come from the medical anti-industrial complex. They have a strange aversion to the role of business in bringing new products [including novel therapeutics] to people.

    Dr. Stossel maintains that media–inspired conflict of interest concerns have led the National Institutes of Health to forbid all corporate consulting by intramural researchers. He calls this the ultimate in red light regulation and notes that colleagues at the NIH tell him that the rules have negatively impacted recruitment and retention.

    Dr. Stossel labels the effort to regulate financial conflicts of interest in life science research and medicine a solution in search of a problem. His podcast interview with GEN raises some controversial and thought-provoking issues. After listening please return to give us your feedback on this controversial topic by answering the following question:

    Should collaborations between biotech or pharmaceutical companies and academic centers/universities be considered conflicts of interest? If so, why? If not, why not?

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Cancer vs. Zika: What Worries You Most?

While Zika continues to garner a lot of news coverage, a Mayo Clinic survey reveals that Americans believe the country’s most significant healthcare challenge is cancer. Compared to other diseases, does the possibility of developing cancer worry you the most?

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