Med. School Looks into Faculty Regulation
Administration Hopes New Programs Will Monitor Faculty Ties to Private Enterprise
Concern over the Medical School's ability to regulate its faculty grew last fall when one top administrator resigned after admitting to plagiarism, and an ophthalmology fellow was found to have misrepresented data results.
In the wake of these controversies, administrators emphasize their committment to improving the revolutionary "New Pathway" curriculum and to promoting student projects like the U.S.-Soviet exchange program currently in progress.
Last October, when ophthalmology fellow C. Scheffer Tseng was found to have misrepresented drug testing results while profiting from the drug's sale, critics questioned the Med School's ability to control researchers' ties to private enterprise.
Congressional and University committees are now investigating Tseng, his supervisor Associate Professor of Opthamology Kenneth R. Kenyon and other stockholders in the drug company.
University plans to channel industry-directed research through a centralized source, announced in the fall, have only heightened concern.
The proposed $30 million fund, called Medical Science Partners, will give "seed money" to promising but potentially risky Med School research projects. Harvard expects that the program, funded entirely by private sources, will start awarding grants this year.
While administrators say that Medical Science Partners will diffuse faculty conflicts-of-interest between research for knowledge and research for profit, others question the University's logic.
"Tseng will be repeated over and over again if Harvard doesn't take steps to more stringently monitor its faculty's outside affairs," says Robert Weissman '89-'90, co-founder of the group Harvard Watch, which evaluates administration policies. "It's almost inevitable."
The Med School's ability to regulate the ethical standards of its faculty was questioned in another context when the director of Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital Shervert H. Frazier resigned in December after admitting to plagiarism.
A group of 25 Soviet medical students arrived yesterday for a 10-day student-run exchange program. The students, from the Second Moscow Pirogov College of Medicine, will host Harvard Med students over spring break in Moscow.
The exchange grew out of New Pathway, a Med School curriculum implemented three years ago that encourages students to develop their own course of study. Administrators continue to expand the program with a third-year clerkship program and a course on patient-doctor relationships beginning this term.
Students and faculty remain divided over the merits of the approach.
The School of Public Health has new programs of its own, including the recently-formed AIDS Institute, the Harvard Alcohol Project and an international conference on competition and collaboration in science this spring.