No Affiliation (was Re: DNA quantification.)

Pamela Norton pnorton at
Wed Apr 29 12:52:46 EST 1998

In article <6i5uo2$fu4 at>, Ransom Hill Bioscience
<visla at> wrote:

> In article <3546570E.5316103C at>,
>         Harry Witchel <Harry.Witchel at> wrote:
> >Kit --
> >    I don't know about pico green, but In Vitrogen (no affiliation)
> >sells a kit called DNA dipstick for measuring those levels of DNA.
> >
> >Harry J. Witchel, Ph.D.
> >Dept. Physiology
> >Medical School
> >Bristol  BS8 1TD
> >   England
> I posted a remark about a year ago about "no affiliation", and I was put
in my place by the
> moderator and told to read the rules. Nevertheless, I wonder if anybody
besides me takes umbrage
> at the "no affiliation" comment?
> (1) It seems to demean to user. For example, Harry posts here all the
time. Would I or you feel
> that if he were affiliated with InVitrogen, that he would mis-represent
something for their
> profit?
> (2) Is InVitrogen held in so low regard that even the assumption of
affiliation is distasteful?
> (3) If someone was so unethical as to mis-represent a product for the
profit of an instutition
> that employed him, why then would we believe him when they say "no
> (4) Why do we not say "some of the research being done at SUNY-Stony
Brook (no-affiliation), has
> shown that..."?
> (5) How do we know that Harry (sorry, Harry, don't mean to suggest
anything by it), doesn't have
> stock in InVitrogen, but no affiliation?
> Here's my point. We demean ourselves as a discipline (research science)
by having to add
> parenthetical comments that, in fact, mean nothing. Since it should be
clear that anyone who
> would lie, would also lie about their affiliation, why should not the
honest among us (probably
> 100% of the participants of this group) dispense with the humiliation?
> Michael T. MacDonell, Ph.D.
> Chief Scientific Officer
> Ransom Hill Bioscience, Inc.
> (affiliation)


     I can't speak for Harry, but I generally include the "no affiliation"
disclaimer in posts where I refer to specific companies and/or their
products. Any company, it doesn't matter. Why? It's a case of preferring to
err on the side of caution. 

     I agree that it would be nice if everyone were upfront about their
motivations, but it's just not so. Confilict of interest is an area of
major concern in academia. I have looked up the "Statement of Principles
Regarding Avoidance of Conflicts of Interests" issued to me by my Univ.
last summer. I am sure that many other institutions have similar policies.
The Statement includes the following language:

     "It is recognized that certain situations or issues involving ethical
judgement may not always be free from ambiguity. As a general rule,
therefore, a person should not only consider the actual fact of conflict
but the appearance to an unknowing third party who might have occasion to
judge or interpret the transaction. Perceived conflicts will be evaluated
and managed the same as known conflicts." 

     Thus, by stating that I have no affiliation with a company whose
products I use, I avoid the appearance of a potential conflict. Paranoid?
Perhaps. Let me also add here the disclaimer that these are my own
opinions, I do not speak for my institution. 

          Pam Norton

P.S. I am sorry that you take umbrage with the "no affiliation" practice. I
value your informative posts, and hope that they will continue.

Pamela A. Norton, Ph.D.          Associate Professor of Medicine
Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, PA 19107           p_norton at

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