1 Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 Institut for Antropologi, Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Københavns Universitet3 University of Luebeck4 University of Sussex5 Reproductive and Genetic Hospital, CITIC-Xiangya6 Charité Medical University7 Peking University Health Science Centre8 University of Lodz9 National University of Singapore10 University of Vienna11 King's College London12 Institut for Antropologi, Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Københavns Universitet13 University of Sussex14 National University of Singapore15 University of Vienna
One of the features of advanced life sciences research in recent years has been its internationalisation, with countries such as China and South Korea considered ‘emerging biotech’ locations. As a result, crosscontinental collaborations are becoming common generating moves towards ethical and legal standardisation under the rubric of ‘global bioethics’. Such a ‘global’, ‘Western’ or ‘universal’ bioethics has in turn been critiqued as an imposition upon resource-poor, non-Western or local medical settings. In this article, we propose that a different tack is necessary if we are to come to grips with the ethical challenges that inter-continental biomedical research collaborations generate. In particular we ask how national systems of ethical governance of life science research might cope with increasingly global research collaborations with a focus on Sino-European collaboration. We propose four ‘spheres’ e deliberation, regulation, oversight and interaction e as a helpful way to conceptualise national systems of ethical governance. Using a workshop-based mapping methodology (workshops held in Beijing, Shanghai, Changsha, Xian, Shenzen and London) we identified three specific ethical challenges arising from cross-continental research collaborations: (1) ambiguity as to which regulations are applicable; (2) lack of ethical review capacity not only among ethical review board members but also collaborating scientists; (3) already complex, researcher-research subject interaction is further complicated when many nationalities are involved.
Social Science and Medicine, 2013, Vol 98, p. 293-300