Thursday, July 29, 2010

Columbia University Caught Doing Unethical Clinical Medicine

For four years Columbia University has knowingly performed unethical and dangerous human clinical research on patients at their PET (positron emission tomography) imaging research facility in New York, where they injected contaminated drugs into human subjects for brain research studies.

Despite the fact that Columbia University scientists knowingly performed unethical research and even falsified documents trying to hide their wrong-doing, the FDA fortunately recently caught them…red handed.

And even more fortunately, the New York Times found out about it six months later, publishing an article entitled, “Studies Halted at Brain Lab Over Impure Injections”.

What are the ramifications to Columbia University for knowingly performing four years of unsafe research on human subjects?

Not much. The only notable change was that top level scientists involved in this debacle got re-assigned….not terminated…no jail time…just reassigned. Woweeee. That is really a hardship.

Hmmmm. And we wonder why these types of unethical practices are common place and condoned in the ivory towers of the academic community?

Columbia University is not above controversy. For example, to get a competitive lead on human embryo research, they have instituted unethical practices of paying women for egg donation. Egg donation is not a procedure without serious risks, risks that many women are really not aware and risks that unfortunately have caused harmed. Again…more unethical practices and disregard for human rights and human dignity.

Columbia University receives millions of dollars of public funding to carry on their research. Columbia University also receives million of dollars from pharmaceutical companies to do their bidding on drug testing too, which coincidently, was part of this four year unethical brain research debacle mentioned above. These types of pharmaceutically-funded research arrangements, unfortunately, often cause conflicts of interests where public health and safety is left behind for commercialization and money-driven incentives.

The public is becoming more and more aware that academic institutions have too strong of monetary ties with industry which thwarts public health and safety advocacy.

And the public is beginning to question why we keep giving public funds to institutions that show blatant disregard for public health and safety, that being involved with either clinical research practices, worker safety, injured workers or human rights issues.

The public is in desperate need for research institutions that will serve public health and safety and advocate for public rights.

Perhaps it is time to rethink public funding to academic institutions that do not advocate for the public.


  1. Just how much money is diverted from public tax dollars that do not advocate for the public in these universities? Bio tech labs are all over California and these labs are not regulated. Why not and why aren't California legislators tackling this problem that could have dire consequences on the public health with the unknown invisible microbes, bacteria or chemicals? Non profit academia while funneling federal money is producing millions in profits for seedling bio labs and their investors, does that include the leaders of academia?

  2. watchdogonscienceJuly 30, 2010 at 6:04 AM


    You are correct in your assessment that non-clinical biotech reserach labs are not regulated...nor have oversight. You are also correct that they present a threat to public health and safety since dangerous agents can be released onto the public through accidental, negligent or intentional release despite the fact that they are not yet doing clinical trials in patients. Columbia University got caught because they were injecting patients with contaminated research materials for their brain research. Clinical research (that is when they involve humans directly) is regulated to some extent. Non-clinical researach is not.