Wis. researchers didn’t disclose conflicts to journals

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter John Fauber reports that conflicts of interest that local researchers disclosed to the university were not always disclosed when those researchers’ work was published.

tomotherapy
Photo by gregsmyth via Flickr.

Their investigation, a “spot check” of about 40 researchers, uncovered at least nine conflicts, such as the cancer specialist (bio) at the University of Wisconsin who “co-authored a medical article on TomoTherapy, a radiation therapy system developed by researchers at the university.” The article failed to mention that the physician had disclosed the university that he’d make $20,000 in 2008 consulting for TomoTherapy, and that he owned TomoTherapy stock options.

Fauber explores the causes of these failures to disclose conflicts of interest, which include systemic weaknesses in both research and publication and reliance on an “honor system.” He talks a little about his reporting method; it’s the sort of story that can be localized by anyone whose local university has a conflict of interest disclosure policy.

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