eLife Latest: Our new Ethics Committee

A new eLife Ethics Committee will advise and develop policy focused on establishing and maintaining the highest standards of research and publication practices across the scope of the journal.
Inside eLife
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As a publisher of research in all areas of biology and medicine, eLife shares the responsibility to guide, maintain, and help improve high ethical standards in research and its open dissemination. Our newly formed eLife Ethics Committee (eEC) is a priority as we reinvigorate eLife’s Medicine section that spans the spectrum of translational research – from basic disease mechanisms to clinical investigation to public health and health policy, with patient-centered research posing specific ethical challenges.

To this end, we have brought together a group of experts from around the world as an advisory think tank chaired by Mone Zaidi, one of eLife’s Deputy Editors in Medicine. The eEC will be responsible for establishing and developing journal policies relating to publishing ethics and advising on a vast array of ethical issues as they arise. The members were selected by the eLife editorial leadership with expertise including, but not limited to, medical ethics, animal ethics, publishing ethics, and data and research ethics.

Strategic goals:

  1. Examine and discuss complex ethical issues, both conceptual and material, with respect to journal policies or on a case-by-case basis for individual submissions
  2. Help eLife’s editorial leadership in establishing new policies for internal use and for dissemination
  3. Assist with formulating guidance for editorial office staff to allow them to rapidly and effectively identify issues requiring further attention

Members:

David Allison is Dean, Distinguished Professor, and Provost Professor at the Indiana University Bloomington School of Public Health, US, and one of eLife’s Reviewing Editors. With research interests spanning obesity and nutrition, quantitative genetics, clinical trials, and statistical and research methodology, he has authored over 600 scientific publications, earning continuous funding by the US National Institutes of Health as a principal investigator for over 25 years. He is also an elected member of the US National Academy of Medicine. David has also worked to pursue tools to improve research reproducibility, replicability, and generalisability, promoting scientific integrity.

Ginny Barbour serves as the Director of Open Access Australasia and is Co-Lead at the Office for Scholarly Communications, Queensland University of Technology, Australia. A champion of the open access movement, she was one of the three founding editors of PLOS Medicine and has since been involved with many open access, publishing, and ethics initiatives. Ginny has also worked to develop several reporting guidelines including CONSORT and PRISMA and is on the NHMRC’s Research Quality Steering Committee.

Balram Bhargava is a Senior Editor at eLife as well as the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research and Secretary of India’s Department of Health Research. He also works as a Professor of Cardiology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and serves as the Executive Director for the Stanford India Biodesign Centre, School of International Biodesign. Co-founder of the India-Stanford Biodesign programme, Balram is a cardiologist, educator and innovator, leading innovations in public health and disease prevention. He is a recipient of the fourth highest civilian honour in India, Padam Shree, and is an elected Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy.

Elisabeth Bik is a scientific integrity consultant who, after receiving a PhD in Microbiology from Utrecht University, Netherlands, spent 15 years working on the microbiomes of humans and marine animals in David Relman’s lab in the School of Medicine at Stanford, US. She is best known for her work detecting photo manipulation in scientific publications, highlighting instances on her popular Twitter account, @MicrobiomDigest, or her blog, ScienceIntegrityDigest.

Douglas Braaten spent over 20 years conducting basic research in immunology, HIV, herpesvirus biology, Drosophila genetics, and cell biology. He was a senior editor at Nature Immunology before becoming Chief Scientific Officer at the New York Academy of Sciences, overseeing the strategic development and planning of scholarly scientific publishing and serving as the Editor-in-Chief of Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Arthur Caplan is the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor of Bioethics and founding Director of the Division of Medical Ethics in the Department of Population Health at New York University Langone Health, US. Having served on a great number of national and international committees, Arthur is an internationally recognised authority on research ethics, research involving vulnerable populations, and vaccine ethics.

Yali Cong is a Professor in Bioethics and Dean of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Law at Peking University, China, and a Reviewing Editor at eLife. She served as Chair of the University’s Institutional Review Board from 2010 to 2020, focusing largely on human subject protection. Yali’s research interests include research ethics, global public health ethics, and medical professionalism, having taught medical ethics for over 20 years. She is currently the Chair of China Medical Ethics Association.

Dennis Lo is one of eLife’s Senior Editors as well as the Li Ka Shing Professor of Medicine, Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences and Associate Dean (Research) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. After Dennis’ discovery that fetal DNA could be detected in the blood plasma of pregnant women, his group’s research has helped develop safer, non-invasive prenatal screening methods, the ethical implications of which he is keenly aware of. He has also pioneered innovations in the liquid biopsies of cancer. Dennis is an elected foreign member of the US National Academy of Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Society, and winner of the Breakthrough Prize.

Reginald Miller is the Dean for Research Operations and Infrastructure at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, US, and is responsible for the oversight of biosafety, resources, infrastructure and the use of animals in research. He is also the Senior Research Integrity Officer for the Mount Sinai Health System, where he addresses allegations of research misconduct.

Iratxe Puebla is the Associate Director for ASAPbio, working to foster awareness and community engagement around the use of preprints in the life sciences. She has a track record in open-access publishing and served as the Deputy Editor-in-Chief at the journal PLOS ONE, where she was actively involved in editorial policy development and publication ethics. Iratxe is also a Facilitation and Integrity Officer for the Committee on Publication Ethics and co-lead for the FORCE11 Research Data Publishing Ethics Working Group.

Tracey Weissgerber is involved in many eLife initiatives, standing as the Chair of the eLife Early-Career Advisory Group and co-leading the eLife Community Ambassadors training program. She also leads the meta-research initiative for the eLife Community Ambassadors program and works as a meta-researcher at the QUEST Center, Berlin Institute of Health at Charité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany. Tracey works to change science by conducting meta-research that provides insight into problems with data visualisation, statistical analysis, and other practices that contribute to irreproducibility.

Loreen Willenberg has long advocated for the rights and welfare of people living with HIV and AIDS, herself being an ‘elite controller’ with a unique case that has inspired HIV research. It was her personal participation in clinical studies that sparked her deep interest in bioethics, particularly with regard to building trustworthy relationships and equity among stakeholders.

Michael Eisen is eLife’s Editor-in-Chief and a fervent advocate for opening up the system of scholarly publishing. In 2000, along with Pat Brown and Harold Varmus, he founded the non-profit advocacy organisation and publisher, PLOS, dedicated to making the world’s scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource.

Wei Mun Chan is eLife’s Editorial Manager and Research Integrity Advisor, prior to which he worked in the Open Access Peer Review Management team at Wiley in Oxford, UK. He has a PhD in Pharmacology from Imperial College London, UK, and prior to Wiley worked as a Senior Scientific Database Curator for UniProt at the European Bioinformatics Institute at Hinxton, UK. He works closely with eLife’s Executive Editor and editorial team, providing oversight on editorial ethics and journal policies, and ensuring the smooth day-to-day running and editorial health of the journal.

Chair:

Mone Zaidi is one of eLife’s Deputy Editors in Medicine, helping to lead expert review of translational research and clinical studies. He is Professor of Medicine and of Pharmacological Sciences, and Director of the Center for Translational Medicine and Pharmacology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. Mone’s research focuses on understanding mechanisms underpinning osteoporosis and obesity as a prelude for new therapies. He is a passionate advocate for ensuring integrity and transparency in biomedical research. He is an elected member of the Association of American Physicians, Association of Professors of Medicine, and American Society for Clinical Investigation, and an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The eEC will convene for their second meeting in August 2021, and will focus on preparing a statement on data availability and discussing clinical research on vulnerable populations.

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