Tuesday, June 28, 2011

SACHRP Now Lacks Social Scientists

Anthropologist Patricia A. Marshall, the sole social scientist on the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP), completed her term on the committee in March, along with three other members.

OHRP has announced the four new members: Albert J. Allen, M.D., Ph.D.; Gary L. Chadwick, Pharm.D., M.P.H., C.I.P.; Susan Krivacic, M.P.Aff.; and Suzanne M. Rivera, Ph.D., M.S.W.

They are, respectively, a child psychiatrist, a pharmacologist, a patient advocate, and an expert in ethics and health policy. In my search for information about these new members, I did not come across anything indicating any expertise in the ethics and methods of social science.

Marshall herself is affiliated with a bioethics department, and I don't know that she spoke up for non-biomedical researchers while on the committee. And there is nothing in the SACHRP Charter requring any diversity of expertise on the committee; the secretary of HHS could appoint eleven pharmacologists if she so chose. But I cannot see how a SACHRP lacking experts on social science can provide meaningful advice on the full range of "matters pertaining to the continuance and improvement of functions within the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) directed toward protections for human subjects in research."

PS. SACHRP has yet to post an agenda for its July meeting, to be held just over three weeks from now.

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