May 26, 2016
Indiana University on Wednesday challenged a new state abortion law in federal court, arguing it restricts academic freedom by criminalizing the acquisition or transfer of fetal tissue used for research. The move stands out because the university is challenging the actions of the state that supports it. The dispute also comes at a time when many state and federal legislators are proposing laws to curtail abortion. And it arrives as lawmakers scrutinize fetal tissue research in the wake of a series of controversial videos released in 2015 showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the use of fetal tissue.
May 4, 2016
Recent weeks have brought good news and bad news concerning lab safety. The good news is an extremely useful new report titled A Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture in Our Universities. Both the report and a companion websitewere issued 11 April by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), whose members include 25 university systems and 207 universities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
April 12, 2016
Presidents and chancellors of U.S. universities must take personal responsibility for changing the lab safety culture in academia, a new report says. The document, published by the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU), challenges top university officials to create high-level committees responsible for lab safety, to modify tenure and promotion requirements to include safety, and to promote open commutation about accidents and near-misses on campuses. Although the report contains other recommendations, the ones putting emphasis on university officials’ accountability are being viewed as most important by the report’s authors and other safety experts.
April 11, 2016
Several major associations issued a new report Monday designed to help universities ensure that their research labs and other academic environments operate safely. The report, "A Guide to Implementing a Safety Culture in Our Universities," was produced by a special panel created by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, in response to a series of accidents in laboratories and other research sites. The report, to which the Association of American Universities and other groups also contributed, offers recommendations for campus administrators and faculty members.
April 4, 2016
A special investigative panel in the U.S. House of Representatives this week intensified its probe into the use of fetal tissue in biomedical research with a dozen new subpoenas aimed at researchers and abortion providers. This second round of inquiries, two of them directed to individual faculty members at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque, deepens concerns among some education groups and scientists that personal information revealed in the investigation could make researchers the target of extremist violence. Several research organizations came to the defense of the university in a letter to Blackburn released yesterday. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Association of American Universities (AAU), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) jointly urged the panel to put in place clear rules about how personally identifiable information would be used and safeguarded.
April 1, 2016
Three umbrella groups representing U.S. institutions of higher education have joined in objecting to a special House panel’s requests for documents pertaining to fetal tissue procurement and research, heightening a conflict over the privacy and safety of personnel involved in those activities. “Whatever the intention of the panel, these subpoenas are seen by many as an attempt to intimidate people involved with fetal tissue research,” Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, said in a statement. “The release of names with their institutional connections could well lead to individuals being targeted for harassment or worse. The rhetoric around fetal tissue research already inflames an issue that generates both passionate support and opposition. Of course, Congress has an important oversight role, but we see no legitimate public purpose for collecting vast lists of individuals involved with this research.”
April 1, 2016
The Association of American Medical Colleges, the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities have deep concerns about a Congressional panel’s plan to subpoena universities for the names of faculty members, graduate students and other personnel involved in fetal tissue research. “Many scientists and physicians are deeply concerned for their safety and that of their patients, colleagues and students in light of inflammatory statements and reports surrounding fetal tissue donation,” the associations wrote in a letter Thursday to leaders of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. “We are troubled that this information is being sought without any rules or process in place to govern how the panel will use and protect personally identifiable and other sensitive information. …These requests appear to go beyond the panel’s stated scope of ‘relevant matters with respect to fetal tissue procurement.’”
April 1, 2016
Seven public urban universities have banded together to form a new collaboration aimed at helping more low-income, underrepresented students earn degrees. The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities are leading the creation of the new group, which is dubbed Collaborating for Change. “Collaborating for Change isn’t just about outlining steps public urban universities can take to improve student success, it’s about helping them actually implement those changes so we can begin to see the progress and improvement that is needed,” APLU President Peter McPherson said in a written statement.
April 1, 2016
Medical schools and universities are protesting Republicans’ decision to issue subpoenas for the names of researchers involved in fetal tissue studies, saying it could put their safety at risk. The Association of American Medical Colleges, which represents all of the country’s medical schools, expressed its “significant concerns” in a letter on Thursday to the heads of the congressional committee set up to investigate Planned Parenthood. "Initial requests sent to our member institutions failed to articulate why information that identified individuals was being requested and how the Panel intended to use this information,” the letter continues. “No assurances were provided to institutions that the Panel would institute any measures to ensure that this information would be safeguarded." The letter urged committee leaders to establish bipartisan rules on how the information will be used and safeguarded. The Association of American Universities, and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities joined the letter.
April 1, 2016
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Association of American Universities sent a letter to the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives — which is investigating fetal tissue research — opposing subpoenas that could reveal the identities of people involved with the research including researchers, staff and graduate students. “Many scientists and physicians are deeply concerned for their safety and that of their patients, colleagues, and students in light of inflammatory statements and reports surrounding fetal tissue donation,” the letter says. “We are troubled that this information is being sought without any rules or process in place to govern how the Panel will use and protect personally identifiable and other sensitive information.”