Recent Conference Addresses Research Integrity on Global Scale

The name Jon Sudbø is one that many in the cancer community will not soon forget. In early 2006, Sudbø admitted to fabricating patient data used in a study of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and oral cancer risk published in The Lancet. Sudbø’s institution, the Norwegian Radium Hospital, promptly appointed a special commission to investigate all his research from the previous decade. The commission found evidence of falsified and fabricated data dating back to Sudbø’s Ph.D. project (J Natl Cancer Inst 2006;98:374–6).

The findings prompted the Norwegian government to formally put into place national research ethics committees tasked with proactive, preventive education on research integrity. The government also established a national office chaired by a judge to investigate cases of alleged scientific misconduct, and new legislation on ethics and integrity in research went into effect in July of this year.

The Sudbø case has parallels all over the world: Research misconduct made national headlines and led to a new national policy that defined the concept and set out a course of disciplinary action against future offenders. In September, the European Science Foundation and the U.S. Office of Research Integrity held the first world conference on research integrity to give researchers and policymakers from around the globe a chance to share their experiences in establishing such systems, as well as to discuss what a global framework for research integrity might look like.

The growing globalization of science is a major driving force behind a push to establish a world standard. “We are no longer dealing with single-investigator projects,” said Lida Anestidou, D.V.M., Ph.D., of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research at the National Academies. “We have multicultural, multinational, multi-institutional, multi-investigator, very expensive investigations. Therefore, [the number of coauthors has] risen dramatically, and disputes over credit, over intellectual property, and over patents have all risen dramatically.”

Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, December 15, 2007. Read the full article online.