There are certain situations in which research ethics consultation services may supplement institutional review boards' work, especially when there is no consensus in the field as to how to handle those circumstances, write Molly Havard, Mildred Cho, and David Magnus from Stanford University in Science Translational Medicine this week. "RECS can foster partnerships between scientists and ethicists or serve as a forum for researchers to address ethical and societal issues that go beyond existing regulatory frameworks," they write. For example, they say that RECS may be helpful in considering the ethical ramifications of incidental findings or the return of research results, research of indigenous groups, and DNA banking, among others. "These triggers provide examples of situations that lie at the cutting edge of ethical analysis, that lie outside the scope of existing regulation, and for which more than one reasonable approach exists," Havard et al. say.
HT: Nature Medicine's Spoonful of Medicine blog