Monday, April 14, 2008

Money and accountability (Procter and Gamble)

My ex colleagues at Sheffield University are in receipt of a great deal of new grant money. That is good. I am pleased. However, with greatness comes the need for accountability and answering. One of those colleagues has a great number of questions to answer about research involving Procter and Gamble. Honest answering is particularly important for a scientist, a very senior doctor and a previous Research Dean of a Medical School. Such individuals are held to a higher standard.

I am glad that Professor Eastell has had the good grace to admit to the false "findings" previously reported, the lie told to the Journal, and a little of the hidden data. The answering could however have been a little more straightforward, with less in the way of linguistic acrobatics. The scientific community has already demonstrated that it is not quite so easily diverted. The false publication should simply have been retracted (statistics and further publication to follow). And that was just the first of the three intended false publications.

With time I have become a dispassionate but interested observer of these events. There is a great deal to learn from them. The sad, almost desperate, attempts at obfuscation by others should be examined. Those attempts convey a great deal about the integrity and motives of regulators and leadership in medicine. It conveys how little respect we have for our patients who place themselves at risk to contribute to our "science". The events also convey a lot about way in which we deal with scientific misconduct when it involves considerable power. The system is kaput, bankrupt.

Character, they say, is like a fence. It can never be strengthened by whitewash, and it is a mistake to try. An apology might have been appropriate, and would certainly have helped a little.

"And sorry seems to be the hardest word
It's sad, so sad,
It's a sad, sad situation
And it's getting more and more absurd"
(Elton John)

09 April 2008
New Biomedical Units to put Sheffield at forefront of clinical research

The University of Sheffield, in partnership with Sheffield Teaching Hospital´s NHS Foundation Trust Sheffield, has been successful in its bid to develop two National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Units in musculoskeletal and cardiovascular disease.

The Biomedical Research Units will drive innovation in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of ill-health and translate advances in medical research into benefits for patients.

They will be established in priority areas of disease, ill health and clinical need. Each unit will receive funding for four years with the first year drawing in £750k and £1m per year for the remaining three years (around $7.5 million)

The awards were made following bids by Professor Richard Eastell and Professor David Crossman from the University´s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Professor Richard Eastell, Head of the Academic Unit of Bone Metabolism at the University of Sheffield and Honorary Consultant in the Metabolic Bone Centre at Sheffield Teaching Hospital´s NHS Trust, said: "We are delighted to have been successful in our application for this funding. This is a great boost to the Trust and the University.

"Having these two biomedical research units based in Sheffield is a major coup for the city and will firmly place us at the forefront of research.

"So many people will benefit from these units as they will enable us to be even stronger in these areas. This announcement is just the beginning, this is a wonderful opportunity for the city to shine.

Professor David Crossman, Head of Cardiovascular Science at the University and Honorary Consultant Cardiologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospital´s NHS Foundation Trust, said: "I am delighted with the investment in cardiovascular research in Sheffield. This will allow us the opportunity to launch new programmes of work designed at bringing our basic research to our patients with coronary artery disease."

Professor Tony Weetman, Dean of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Sheffield, said: "This is welcome news, which allows the University´s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the Trust to build on our successful partnership in translating research into medical practice for the benefit of patients.

"Our success in bidding for these prestigious NIHR Biomedical Research Units has been underpinned by our joint clinical research facilities, and I look forward to even closer working with the Trust as we develop the profile of academic medicine in Sheffield."

Andrew Cash, Chief Executive of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "This is a fantastic coup for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and the University of Sheffield which will put the city firmly on the research map. We have an excellent ongoing relationship with the University and this is a further opportunity to extend that work for the benefit of patients in Sheffield and beyond."

For further information please contact: Jenny Wilson, Media Relations Officer on 0114 2225339 or email

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Radagast said...

Very witty, as usual, Aubrey. Good post. Or, as Stephany nearly refrained from commenting on a recent post of mine: McGood!


soulful sepulcher said...

"It conveys how little respect we have for our patients who place themselves at risk to contribute to our "science". The events also convey a lot about way in which we deal with scientific misconduct when it involves considerable power. The system is kaput, bankrupt."

I think this says it all Aubrey. I suppose when one has no integrity then these things just do not occur to them; it would seem to me that respect and integrity would be high on the list, but what do I know.

Keep up the good work here, this post actually is quite sad to me.

Fid said...

I have blogged about this Aubrey.

The Parallels of Scientific Misconduct


Radagast said...

Actually, that's an interesting point: what, exactly, is power? It seems to me that power resides in accessing a position whereby one is able to manipulate what is presented as the truth, to suit one's own ends, or the desired outcome. That doesn't sound very impressive to me, at all - anybody can do that. It's called lying, although I suppose the truly "powerful" get to have the facility to obfuscate their lies with further manipulation and cover-up, and so on, ad nauseum.

How old are these people?


soulful sepulcher said...

Yeah me too.