NIH to Examine Ethics Policies
Recently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has come under scrutiny for how the agency manages its ethics program. Specifically, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce questioned how NIH interprets federal regulations that permit federal employees to participate in outside activities and receive compensation and the statutes that define what a conflict of interest is. In response to these concerns, NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni has developed a strategy - reviewed and approved by institutes' deputy ethics coordinators - that calls for the review of outside activities dating back five years. Dr. Zerhouni has stated that "all employees at NIH have the obligation to disclose these arrangements. To the best of our knowledge, they have done so." NIH's plan also calls for the establishment of a new NIH ethics advisory committee, the appointment of a blue-ribbon panel to examine NIH ethics policies and practices, and a review of financial disclosure requirements for NIH personnel. As a component of NIH, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) recognizes the importance of having a strong ethics program and looks to benefit from NIH's efforts. Read more
Pancreatic Cancer Research: New Tools Will Aid Larger Efforts
Last month brought new hope to the research community in the form of two studies focused on genetically engineered mouse models of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is among the most lethal human malignancies, with a median survival time of 6 months; only 5 percent of patients achieve five years of survival. This dismal prognosis is thought to be related to the absence of early detection methods. Characterization of early-stage disease has been limited by a lack of appropriate models for research.
In the first study, a team of researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute reported that they had developed a bioengineered mouse model that contains two "signature mutations" seen in the human form of pancreatic cancer. Just as they do in humans, the mutated genes in the mouse model work together to allow the development of premalignant lesions, which in turn lead to full-blown disease. Read more