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Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2009

Risk Analysis: The Evolution of a Science

Session Schedule & Abstracts

* Disclaimer: All presentations represent the views of the authors, and not the organizations that support their research. Please apply the standard disclaimer that any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in abstracts, posters, and presentations at the meeting are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other organization or agency. Meeting attendees and authors should be aware that this disclaimer is intended to apply to all abstracts contained in this document. Authors who wish to emphasize this disclaimer should do so in their presentation or poster. In an effort to make the abstracts as concise as possible and easy for meeting participants to read, the abstracts have been formatted such that they exclude references to papers, affiliations, and/or funding sources. Authors who wish to provide attendees with this information should do so in their presentation or poster.

Common abbreviations

Research Funding and Scientific Integrity: Conflicts and Criteria

Room: Federal Hill   10:30 AM-Noon

Chair(s): Richard Becker

M2-E.1  10:30  Proposed consensus criteria for assessing the reliability of scientific work. Conrad, Jr. JW*; Conrad Law & Policy Counsel

Abstract: Ultimately, the merits of scientific research findings are judged by the extent to which they are reproduced by other scientists. Such replication can take years, and what constitutes replication in a given case may be disputable for some time. Consequently, the scientific community has developed a variety of shorter-term approaches for assessing scientific work. Some of these approaches are designed to evaluate the validity and significance of the work, particularly in comparison to other studies addressing the same question. (These approaches are frequently termed “weight of evidence” approaches.) Other approaches are addressed to the more limited, but still vitally important, task of evaluating the reliability of the work against concerns that the results may be the product of error or may have been consciously or unconsciously influenced by conflicting interests or biases of the investigator. Some of these latter approaches have become well-established (e.g., peer review, disclosure of competing interests); others are not yet widely accepted (e.g., public registries of proposed research, free access to underlying data). This presentation will survey the approaches being suggested and will propose a set of criteria that, if they became conventionally accepted, would allow all concerned to have confidence in the reliability of scientific work regardless of who conducted or funded it.

M2-E.2  10:50  The Science for Policy Project: Recommendations for improving the use of science in regulatory policy. Goldston D*, Trapani J; Bipartisan Policy Center

Abstract: The use of science in the formulation of regulatory policy – by both the Executive Branch and the Congress – has become a political flashpoint in recent decades. Policy makers often claim that particular regulatory decisions have been driven by, or even required by science; their critics, in turn, have attacked the quality or the interpretation of that science. These problems are largely systemic; they will not magically vanish with a change of Administrations or a shift in the composition of the Congress. New processes are needed – approaches that will be seen as legitimate by most stakeholders on all sides of issues and that will make policy making more transparent. A critical goal of any new procedures for establishing regulatory policy must be to clarify which aspects of a regulatory issue are matters of science and which are matters of policy (e.g., economics or ethics). To come up with new approaches, the Bipartisan Policy Center initiated the Science for Policy Project, assembling a diverse panel of experts to develop recommendations on how to improve the way science is used in making regulatory policy across the government’s areas of responsibility. The panel includes liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, scientists and policy experts, and leaders with experience in government, industry, academia and non-governmental organizations. The panel’s recommendations focus on three key areas: 1) the need for the Administration to develop ways to explicitly differentiate, to the extent possible, science and policy questions; 2) the need for guidelines on when to consult advisory panels on scientific questions, how to appoint them, and how to deal with conflicts of interest; and 3) the need for improved policies and methods for agencies and advisory committees to evaluate scientific studies relevant to regulatory policy. We discuss the project and outline the panel’s recommendations and efforts to persuade decision makers to implement them.

M2-E.3  11:10  Funding Food Science and Nutrition Research: Financial Conflicts and Scientific Integrity . Hentges E*, Miller S; ILSI North America (author 1) and University of Maryland (author 2)

Abstract: There has been significant public debate about the susceptibility of research to bias as a result of industry funding. The nutrition and food science community has faced similar issues; specifically that industry-funded research is biased towards results that favor the sponsors. Given the critical role that industry has played and will continue to play in the research process, the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) North America published conflict-of-interest guidelines for industry funding of nutrition, food, and food safety science research in order to ensure the integrity and credibility of the scientific record. Eight principles have been developed specifying ground rules for industry-sponsored research. These principles are intended to be dynamic, prompting ongoing discussion by the nutrition research community and further refinement. This presentation will provide participants with information on the nature of academic-industry relationships in research including identifying key issues, present views from different stakeholders, and offer a discussion of the eight principles.

M2-E.4  11:30  Subjective or Objective? Should the Scientist be Judged? Borgert CJ*; Applied Pharmacology and Toxicology, Inc., & C.E.H.T., Univ. of Florida Dept. Physiol Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine

Abstract: For the past quarter century, financial conflicts of interest (FCoI) and the enforcement of policies to reduce or eliminate their impact on the operations and applications of science have been prominent concerns for editors of scientific journals and for regulatory agencies and government bodies who receive assistance and advice from the scientific community. That two decades of increasingly stringent disclosure requirements and censorship of individuals perceived to possess FCoI have produced no measurable improvements in the quality of scientific publications nor in the accuracy of science used in the regulatory process suggests that misguided assumptions may be driving the way conflicts are judged and controlled. In order to improve the situation, it may be necessary to recognize that efforts to control a process aimed at objectivity by enforcing judgments derived subjectively is bound to miss the target. Rather than subjective judgments about a scientist’s motives divined from financial statements, the scientific method itself may hold far more promise for thwarting conflicts of interest, whether rooted in financial, professional, or ideological motives. First, it is necessary to recognize that the epistemological basis of scientific reasoning is mistrust of the scientist, irrespective of his economic or societal position. Second, it is essential to recognize that the minimum requirements of scientific evidence provide a means by which not only data, but also interpretations inferred from the data may be judged objectively. Third, the scientific community must decide whether it prefers to be judged by its own standards, or those from disciplines yet to attain the level of objectivity and benefit to society that only the mathematical, physical, chemical and biological sciences can claim. Much rests on how these issues are decided; complacency is no longer a viable course of action.

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