Tomlinson and De Vries: “Human Biospecimens Come from People”

Tom Tomlinson photoCenter Professor Dr. Tom Tominson and co-author Raymond De Vries have an article in the March-April 2019 issue of Ethics & Human Research, “Human Biospecimens Come from People.” The issue’s theme is “The Scientific Value and Validity of Research.”

Abstract: Contrary to the revised Common Rule, and contrary to the views of many bioethicists and researchers, we argue that broad consent should be sought for anticipated later research uses of deidentified biospecimens and health information collected during medical care. Individuals differ in the kinds of risk they find concerning and in their willingness to permit use of their biospecimens for future research. For this reason, asking their permission for unspecified research uses is a fundamental expression of respect for them as persons and should be done absent some compelling moral consideration to the contrary. We examine three moral considerations and argue that each of them fails: that there is a duty of easy rescue binding on all, that seeking consent creates a selection bias that undermines the validity of biospecimen research, and that seeking and documenting consent will be prohibitively expensive.

The full text is available online via Wiley Online Library (MSU Library or other institutional access may be required to view this article).

Do People Care What’s Done with Their Biobanked Samples?

tomlinsonCenter Director Dr. Tom Tomlinson has a new article in the July-August issue of IRB: Ethics & Human Research. 

Abstract: When donating leftover biological samples to a biobank for use in medical research, people generally are asked to give a broad consent. This allows their samples and associated medical information to be later used without any further consent. Although risks to donors are virtually eliminated by deidentification of their samples, some donors may have concerns about the moral dimensions of research using their biological samples. We used an Internet survey of Michigan residents (N = 683) to determine the effects that information about future possible research uses has on people’s willingness to donate their biological samples under a broad consent. The presentation of research projects that might raise moral concerns for some individuals reduced the number of respondents willing to give a broad consent and reduced confidence in their decision among those still willing to donate. Even so, the great majority (> 85%) remained willing to donate. We discuss the implications of these findings for the consent and information-sharing policies of biobanks.

Read “Do People Care What’s Done with Their Biobanked Samples?” by Tom Tomlinson, Stan A. Kaplowitz, and Meghan Faulkner via
MSU Library access may be required to view this publication.