Peer Review Anonymity on Trial

David J. States states at ibc.wustl.edu
Sun Jan 21 16:31:33 EST 1996


U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu wrote in response to Keith Robison:
> >Look at what is already regulated in research labs: nuclear
> >and toxic waste handling, biohazards, etc.
> 
> That's another topic.
> 
> Which, BTW, clinical labs also do a hell of a lot better then
> academic ones.

Clinical laboratories routinely work with specimens that must be
assumed to contain contagious and extremely harzardous agents such
as HIV, hepatitis B, and TB.  In a research setting these would
require P3 or P4 facilities far different from the bioharzard
precautions appropriate for work with routine molecular biology
or cell culture.  Clinical labs run a defined selection of test 
and clinical decisions are made as a direct result of assay
results.  In a research setting, new assays are constantly
introduced, checked, and cross-checked with the expectation
that there will be significant artifacts and glitches that need
to be worked out.  If an academic lab persists in doing the same 
assay on the same type of sample year after year, it usually 
results in pretty boring science (with predictable consequences
in lab funding).  In a research lab the issue is establishing
the correct result once and then moving on.  In the clinical
lab, the mission is to provide a standard assay that can be 
relied upon year after year.  These are very different tasks,
and this implies that different management and QA procedures are
appropriate.

> In academia (some of the places I have worked at least)...
> radioactive waste is more of a number game... in that you just make
> sure the amount which came in adds up to the amount which goes
> out... and that's pretty much it.
> 
> And I've seen places were hot materials are dumped down regular
> sinks and biohazardous materials are just tossed in the regular
> garbage.

All of the laboratory directors that I know take laboratory safety,
bioharzards, and radioactive materials handling very seriously.
Institutions are required to have review and inspection mechanisms 
in place.  In this, and several of your past posting, you make 
serious unsubstantiated allegations of misconduct, but you do 
not indicate that you brought these incidents to the attention 
of the lab director, lab safety officer or other appropriate 
instituional personnel.  Nor do you indicate that institutional
mechanisms failed to respond appropriately to your allegations.
If you are serious about solving the problems, I urge you to
pursue all of the available institutional avenues for correcting
the situation.  Posting an unsubstantiated allegation to bionet
is not enough.

David States



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