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Caroline Whitbeck Elmer G. Beamer-Hubert H. Schneider Emerita Professor in Ethics Case Western Reserve University Case Western Reserve University More Posts
Parent Resource128
Secondary Title Commercialization


Author(s) Thomas H. Murray

Should donors of human biological material for research be told of the potential profits companies and researchers may gain from this research?

Author(s): Thomas H. Murray, Ph.D.

A scientist supported by both NIH and private sources is tracking down a gene that she believes helps to mediate the process by which the walls of blood vessels begin to accumulate the deposits that lead to occlusion, restricted blood flow, and ultimately to disease. The next step in her research requires obtaining fresh samples of tissue from people being treated for myocardial infarctions and ischemic strokes. She is very hopeful that once she has identified the alleles of the gene associated with the buildup of deposits on arterial walls, a test can be developed and marketed that would identify those individuals with moderate or high cholesterol who are at most risk.

  • Should the scientist offer to share whatever royalties she might receive with the donors of the tissue?
  • Should the informed consent include information that this research may well have commercial applications, and that the donors of the human biological materials will not share in the profits that might come?



From Discussion Scenarios for Group Mentoring in Responsible Research
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Contributor(s) Caroline Whitbeck
Notes Caroline Whitbeck introduced methods and modules for discussing numerous issues in responsible conduct of research at a Sigma Xi Forum in 2000. Partial funding for the development of this material came from an NIH grant. You can find the entire sequence on the OEC at Some information in these historical modules may be out-of-date; for instance, there may be a new edition of the professional society’s code that is referred to in an item. If you have suggestions for updates, please contact the OEC.
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Year 2000
Publisher National Academy of Engineering
Language English
  • Using Case Studies Bibliography


    This bibliography includes examples of different ways instructors have used case studies to introduce ethical topics to their students and resources for finding cases and incorporating them into the classroom.

    Author(s) Kelly Laas
    Year 2016
  • Added08/23/2006

    In this essay, Dr. Whitbeck outlines an 'agent-centered' approach to learning ethics. The central aim is to prepare students to act wisely and responsibly when faced with moral problems. She provides a number of examples and cases with descriptions of questions and directions for promoting student participation and stimulating thought and discussion.

    Year 1995
Cite this page: "Commercialization" Online Ethics Center for Engineering 8/18/2006 OEC Accessed: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 <>