Eugene Garfield garfield at CODEX.CIS.UPENN.EDU
Sat Aug 27 14:01:40 EDT 2011


Author(s): Goldberg, DM (Goldberg, David M.)
Source: JOURNAL OF MEDICAL BIOCHEMISTRY  Volume: 30  Issue: 2  Pages: 
79-92  DOI: 10.2478/v10011-011-0003-9  Published: 2011  

Abstract: Modern Academic Science is largely based on the formulation of 
hypotheses that are then confirmed through observations and experiments. 
There is little scope for curiosity that played an important role in early Science. 
Results carrying negative implications are not easy to publish, and hypotheses 
have a tendency to take on the mantra of religious beliefs. Academic Science is 
facing on many fronts pressures that hardly existed in the past. Financial 
rewards apart from salary can be very high, in the form of fees for consultants, 
expert legal witnesses, patent development and even the establishment of 
private companies. Commercial funding forms a significant percentage of the 
Total Research Budgets in Science and Medicine, but this often leads to loss of 
control over research protocols and freedom to communicate the results. Media 
attention confers fame and prestige that is assiduously sought out by some 
individuals scientists, often supported by University resources, and Press 
Conferences prior to or synchronous with actual publication. Scientists have 
long been employed full-time by Government Departments, but research 
contracts are being increasingly offered by the latter to academic staff on a 
part-time basis. These pressures and opportunities, together with the priority 
given to research by most University Tenure and Promotion Committees, are 
tending to diminish the appetite of scientists for other important responsibilities 
such as teaching and administration. In a few decades, University scientists 
have moved from the "Ivory Tower" to the High Street, and many are serving 
more than one master. The above scenario may bring increased remuneration 
and the pursuit of research that would be too expensive without these external 
sources, but adverse consequences have also occurred. They may lead to the 
complicity of scientists, through no fault of their own, in the introduction of 
drugs and supplements that: a) fail to deliver the benefits claimed; b) increase 
the risk of some unrelated illness; c) possess dangerous side effects not known 
or reported at the time of introduction. Examples include hormone replacement 
therapy and antioxidant vitamins (A and E) to protect against Coronary Heart 
Disease; dietary fibre to prevent colon cancer; and arguably calcium 
supplements to treat osteoporosis. On occasions, academic scientists have 
served as fronts for the publication by the manufacturers of falsified reports 
minimizing the risk of serious drug side-effects to ensure Regulatory Approval, 
as occurred with Vioxx in the treatment of arthritis, and Seroquel for 
schizophrenia and bipolar depression. Individual fraud or misconduct is more 
frequent than suspected, because most incidents are without major impact and 
are suppressed by Universities and Funding Agencies. Major scandals are rare, 
but may have serious repercussions for the general public and bring science 
into disrepute. Recent examples include: the Cold Fusion controversy (Low 
Energy Nuclear Reaction); the linkage by Andrew Wakefield of autism with 
Rubella vaccination; the infamous creation of stem cells by somatic cell nuclear 
transfer falsely reported by Hwang Woo-Suk. Fraud by commercial companies is 
subject to the full force of the law, but Science is treated as a self-regulating 
profession, and as such the punishments handed out are relatively trivial. In 
essence, Science prior to 1950, except in North America, proceeded along a 
highway that segregated the traffic into Commercial, Government and 
Academic streams, and passed through inspiring landscapes and green 
It lter came to a crossroads from which the alternative road led to the 
Marketplace, and on which segregation into the above three streams was not 
enforced. It has now become the main thoroughfare for Science world-wide, 
but there are reasons to believe that this has increased the incidence of 
dangerous driving and traffic accidents in the form of conflicts of interest, 
unethical behaviour, misconduct and even fraud. It may be too late to return 
to the crossroads and continue along the original highway, but there could be 
considerable merit in restoring the original segregation between the three 
streams of Science and in developing, as well as enforcing, a stricter code of 
behaviour, for which some elements are proposed.

Language: English
Document Type: Review
Author Keywords: scientific fraud; drug development; cold fusion; dietary fibre; 
hormone replacement therapy; regulatory approval; rubella vaccine; stem cells; 

Addresses: [Goldberg, DM] Univ Toronto, Dept Lab Med & Pathobiol, Toronto, 
ON, Canada
Reprint Address: Goldberg, DM (reprint author), 9 Harrison Rd, Toronto, ON M2L 
1V3, Canada

E-mail Address: david.goldberg at
ISSN: 1452-8258

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