Reviewing Ethics – FERCI-Con 2018

The 6th National Conference for Forums for Ethics Review Committees in India.. .wow is it not a mouthful? What are Ethics Review Committees you may ask? What do they do? Who is involved in them? And why?

Research is the basis of everything one can conclude if one were to take a philosophical stand. From the discovery that two stones rubbed together ignite dried wood to the acceptance that illuminated combustion would be called fire was based on communication between people. Research is nothing but that done formally, ritually and categorically to come up with results that could be as simple or crazily complicated.

Research has been done on humans ever since the beginning of civilisation. Ethics existed even then to monitor how it is being performed, on whom and why. Is any harm being inflicted? Is the cause valid enough? The demand succulent enough?

Ethics committees comprise of 7-15 people (doctors, judges, theologians, lawyers, socialists, mathematicians) who monitor research done on humans in the present scenario.
These committees meet up often to discuss ideas, construct boundaries, unravel others and basically ensure that research is taking place in a smooth environment.  The 6th FERI-CON organised by Manipal Academy of Higher Education took place on the 30th of December for the same.  It sprang off in full fervour with a discussion on Ethical Issues in Stem Cell Research taken up by Dr Vineeta Jagannath of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research who spoke about lab-based research, ethics in stem cell preservation etc.

The Key Note session was taken up by the distinguished SR Bhatt, a leading philosopher of the day and voice on Indian and Buddhist philosophy. The Value is Medical Ethics was discussed by his eminence.

N Sreekumaran Nair, Jipmer enhanced the importance of statistics, elimination of bias in research and mathematical basis of data collection concluding the speech with the fact that research is not free from bias.

This was followed by the powerful talk by Dr. Sanjay Lewin on Pediatric Clinical Trials that was met with much applause for the style of speech of the speaker and statements taken up by him.

Plenary Session number 1 saw eminent representatives from
ICMR, KMC, paediatricians and surgeons who came to discuss Ethical Dilemma in Biomedical Research. Dr Urmila Thatte and Dr Roti Mathur gave some interesting take-home points to the audience concerning the above.

A much-awaited lunch was followed by the Plenary Session number 2 which was chaired by Dr. Sanjay Lewin wherein the Incorporation of Ethics in Medical Education was discussed.

Simultaneously in Hall A, a melee of interesting topics such as Ethics in Ancient India, Passive Euthanasia, In vitro fertilisation and the integration of ethics in medical research were capturing audiences with strong statements and questions worth pondering.

The Conference ended with a general body meeting, the inauguration and an illustrious dinner served pompously at the Mangalore Club.