"That's a good question": university researchers' views on ownership and retention of human genetic specimens.
PURPOSE: To explore the views of university-based investigators conducting genetic research with human specimens regarding ownership and retention of specimens, and knowledge of related institutional review board and university policies. METHODS: Data were collected in three phases: a qualitative pilot study of 14 investigators; a web-based survey taken by 80 investigators; and follow-up, in-depth interviews with 12 survey respondents. RESULTS: Investigators named a variety of single or multiple owners of human specimens and often expressed confusion regarding specimen ownership. Most associated ownership with rights to control, and responsibilities to maintain, specimens. Investigators viewed specimens as "precious" resources whose value could be increased through long-term or infinite retention, particularly in light of anticipated technological advances in genome science. Their views on ownership and retention were shaped by perceptions of institutional review board policies as immortalized in subject informed consent documents, rather than knowledge of actual policies. CONCLUSION: Long-term retention of human specimens makes confusion about ownership particularly problematic. Given findings that investigators' views on ownership and retention are largely guided by their perception of university policies, the need for clear, consistent policies at the institution level is urgent.
Cadigan, RJ; Easter, MM; Dobson, AW; Davis, AM; Rothschild, BB; Zimmer, C; Sterling, R; Henderson, G
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