The next stage of responsible conduct: Macroethics of Nanobiotechnology Research
Preliminary results are now available from Duke’s enhanced Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) program for graduate-level research in emerging fields. Three main opportunities for ethics in nanotechnology-related research are being stressed: awareness; ethical decision making, and behavior. This year, Duke has used workshops to enhance awareness. The most recent workshop included a case on a skin product using nanotubes. Three breakout groups each considered potential problems and opportunities from a specific perspective:
1. Occupational health and safety
2. Consumer and post-consumer considerations
3. Environmental transport and fate
The groups reached very different conclusions on risks and opportunities, but all three thought beyond the specific receptor groups to which they were assigned. This provides an interface with the second stage, decision making. The decision making will be considered using three teaching modalities: case analysis; code writing and benchside consultations. The next workshop planned for November 2007, will provide an interactive learning experience for graduate students in case analysis and code writing. There will continue to be attention to ethical awareness, but the objective of these workshops will be to compare the efficacy of the two methods for meeting the RCR needs related to ethical decision making. Benchside consultation is not conducive to a workshop setting, so we are designing a year-long project in which students and faculty apply some benchside tools to their current nanotechnology-related research, such as mentoring, video-capture and community building. Their ethical decision making will be compared before and after participation in the benchside consultations.
Ethical behavior can only be assessed in the longer term. Duke will make use of collaborations with other universities to assess how RCR is affecting ethical behavior, including the Land Grant University Research Ethics program and recent engineering enhancements to the “Course in The Protection of Human Research Subjects.” Duke is developing the macroethical teaching module for both programs.
Laursen, T; Vallero, D; Lenoir, T; Clark, R; Reichert, W
International Journal of Medical Implants and Devices
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