January 28, 2011
In October 2010, Professor Leslie E. Wolf traveled to Shanghai, China to present at the Symposium on Advanced Biotechnologies & Instrumentation (SABI) conference. This two-day international conference and exhibition brought together researchers and industry representatives and focused on advanced biotechnologies, instrumentation, and equipment. There were over 100 attendees from Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
In keeping with the conference theme of building bridges between academia and industry, in her presentation "Translating Good Ethics into Good Science and Business," Wolf sought to highlight the ethical pitfalls that can arise in academic-industry collaborations, as well as strategies for minimizing those pitfalls.
"There are plenty of cases that show the problems that can occur from such collaborations," Wolf said. "For example, there are numerous examples that show that conflicts of interest can harm participants, bias study results, and undermine trust in research."
But academic-industry collaborations can also fund important research and bring products that benefit the public to market. "Failing to pay attention to ethical obligations can hurt a company’s bottom line," said Wolf. "Thus, adopting policies in industry-academic collaborations that protect participant safety and research integrity will benefit industry in the long run."
The conference also provided an opportunity for Wolf to use her limited Chinese. She began her presentation by introducing herself in Mandarin, a gesture that was enthusiastically received by the crowd. The conference also offered speakers an opportunity to visit the World Expo, which was in its last week in Shanghai. There were approximately 800,000 visitors daily.