International science and bioethics collaborations: critical approaches to new knowledge relations
This is a three-year £1.5 million ESRC-funded research collaboration in Social Anthropology between the Universities of Cambridge, Durham and Sussex (Principal Investigator: Professor Marilyn Strathern, Cambridge, UK). The project aims to address current social, economic and cultural issues that arise in, and are constitutive, of international collaboration, knowledge transfer and capacity building in biomedical science and bioethics. The project is built on a network of research partners across the Asian sub-continent.
The Durham component of the International science and bioethics collaborations relations project is comprised of Dr Bob Simpson [co-investigator], Dr Salla Sariola [post-doctoral researcher] and Ms Rachel Douglas-Jones [doctoral student]. Our work is situated in South Asia with particular focus on collaborative projects that are underway in Sri Lanka. The research currently underway is as follows:
Salla Sariola is investigating the processes involved in implementing internationally sponsored clinical trials in Sri Lanka: the context in which trials take place, what happens before trials can proceed, how they are set up on the ground, the negotiations with collaborators in local health care settings, the manner in which consent is gathered, the follow-up of participants and what happens when the trials are complete [e.g. follow-up, benefit sharing, dissemination of results]. By developing a critical understanding of the ethical problems that arise in the conduct of collaborative clinical trials, and how these are managed in practice, we hope to provide insights into their future effectiveness and benefit.
Rachel Douglas-Jones' research complements the clinical trials work in that it focuses on the issue of capacity-building in bioethics. Her work considers the building of ethical review committees at national level as well as at a variety of local levels [hospitals, universities, professional associations]. The rapid development of ‘capacity' in this regard draws on a wide range of international influences [declarations and protocols as well as the in-put of international experts].
Both projects have at their core an interest in the globalisation of bioethics both as a ubiquitous, neo-liberal discourse and as a novel and emergent set of practices.