In a comment on an earlier posting, Dr. Jeffrey Cohen takes issue with my referring to Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R) as "a body dominated by professionals involved in biomedical research.”
“even though PRIM&R's name refers to medicine, that is a carry over from it formation over 30 years ago. Since then PRIM&R has grown into an organization that includes all aspects of human subjects research, including the social sciences.”
PRIM&R indeed seeks to control many kinds of research, but it fails to include all types of researchers. Its board of directors includes 22 active members. Nineteen of them (86 percent) are by training or affiliation clearly in the biomedical camp. Of the remaining three, Charles McCarthy is a former senior official at the National Institutes of Health. That leaves two university IRB officials—Keane and Selwitz—as the sole directors whose affiliation is not primarily biomedical. No social or economic researchers sit on the board. That's what I call domination.
Even when PRIM&R ponders what it calls “social, behavioral, and economic research,” it ignores social and economic researchers. The faculty list for the upcoming “SBER” conference lists twenty people. Some of them are psychologists, known in IRB terms as behavioral scientists. But how many are researchers in economics, the social sciences, or the humanities? Well, if we count law, there’s one.
So let me amend my comment: PRIM&R is a body dominated by professionals involved in biomedical research who like to impose medical ethics on other fields.