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Monday, August 1, 2016

Panel slams plan for human research rules

by David Malakoff
Science  08 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6295, pp. 106-107
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6295.106

In a surprise development certain to fuel a long-running controversy, a prominent science advisory panel is calling on the U.S. government to abandon a nearly finished update to rules on protecting human research participants. It should wait for a new high-level commission, created by Congress and the president, to recommend improvements and then start over, the panel says.

Policy insiders say the recommendation, made 29 June by a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that is examining ways to reduce the regulatory burden on academic scientists, is the political equivalent of a comic book hero trying to step in front of a speeding train in a bid to prevent a wreck.

It's not clear, however, whether the panel will succeed in stopping the regulatory express--or just get run over. Both the Obama administration, which has been pushing to complete the new rules this year, and lawmakers in Congress would need to back the halt--and so far they've been silent.

Still, many researchers and university groups are thrilled with the panel's recommendation, noting that they have repeatedly objected to some of the proposed rule changes as unworkable, but with little apparent impact.

The article is here.