Human Subject Protections — The U. of Minnesota Experience

Ideally, human research protection programs (HRPPs) stay out of the “above the fold” position in newspapers, because “above the fold” is where stories about big failures tend to wind up (or did, back when printed newspapers were still really a thing*; “on the homepage” may be a better way to put it now).

The University of Minnesota (UM) HRPP recently found itself the subject of an op-ed piece in the New York Times. The author, Carl Elliott, a professor at the Center for Bioethics there, opens the piece with, “If you want to see just how long an academic institution can tolerate a string of slow, festering research scandals, let me invite you to the University of Minnesota, where I teach medical ethics.” The piece then describes a rather alarming list of incidents, which the author later describes as “just the highlights.” Additional background of the some activities later found to be problematic were described in an earlier New York Times piece.

We encourage you to click on the links above to learn about this situation and to underline just how important a robust human research protection program is. Additional information about the problems found at UM were also the topic of a long piece in the April 2015 edition of Report on Research Compliance. If you would like to read that article, please contact Edith Paal at

Note that the New York Times allows people to read something like 10 articles per month without subscribing. If you are having trouble accessing them via the links above, please email for help.

*And we acknowledge that for some of us, printed newspapers all still a thing; your blog author subscribes to two at home, which is how she found the op-ed piece in the first place.