Prime Rib and PRIM&R Both Worth Writing About in San Antonio

After spending three days indulging in San Antonio’s Tex-Mex and barbeque, I’m back at the office feeling like:

San Antonio was where Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research held its big annual conference this year. This year marked my 10th consecutive year covering this conference, which brings together thousands of people from all over the world to discuss research ethics and other human subject protection issues. It was also nice to be out in 85 degree weather in November, of which I definitely took advantage as I tried to file stories as quickly as possible.

San AntonioThe conference organizers kicked off the events on Monday with a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting in Sutherland Springs, which is about 30 miles from San Antonio. (As I walked around the Riverwalk, I noticed all the flags were flying at half-staff. The security guard at The Alamo told me it was the third time this month).

Despite the 800-pound gorilla that nobody could discuss—aka will the federal government delay the Common Rule, and what are those three provisions the Department of Health and Human Services wants to delay—it was still an informative conference. They talked about new consent requirements, broad consent, data sharing, and, of course, the single IRB requirement that goes into effect Jan. 25.

We’re putting together a special conference issue, but here are random quotes I heard over those three days:

  • Michele Russell-Einhorn of Schulman IRB and a Bloomberg Law advisory board member who moderated a panel on the changing landscape of research regulations:
    "It’s been an astonishing two years in the field of human research protections.”
  • Mark Barnes of Ropes & Gray (and advisory board member) on how broad consent as introduced in the revised Common Rule isn’t really consent:
    “We should be calling it, I don’t know … ZEBRAS! Because it’s so different.”
  • Carrie Wolinetz, associate director of science policy for the National Institutes of Health, on how to determine if a research data set will be useful in the long run:
    “Is it an avocado that’s going to spoil in a short period of time or is it a fine wine that’s only going to get better with age? And how do we recognize that upfront?”
  • Former Food and Drug Commissioner Rob Califf, who’s back at Duke University, on giving a keynote right after Ada Sue Selwitz of the University of Kentucky accepted PRIM&R’s legacy award:
    “…and to follow a Kentucky person. We do have one thing in common that you probably agree on. We don’t have to worry about Louisville this year.”

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