Duncan Society Public Lecture: 'Power, Perversion and Delusion: Academic Conflicting Interests in Medical Research'

When? Wednesday February 3rd, 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm
Refreshments at 5.30 pm, talk begins at 6 pm

Where? Seminar Room 1, Sherrington Building, The University of Liverpool, Ashton Street, L69 3GE

Impregnating mosquito nets with insecticide helps reduce the number of child deaths from malaria, and we know this through synthesising reliable studies testing this. Deworming children, however, is widely promoted as being effective, yet our research shows the claimed benefits have been over-egged. One finding of our work over 20 years as part of Cochrane systematically appraising studies is we discover that researchers sometimes systematically perverted the science available to the public. Drawing on development policies for children in developing countries, we examine the tweaks and spins on scientific evidence that sometimes blows policy off course. We explore how considering the reward system in science can create perverse incentives, and this environment means academics sometimes behave in ways that challenge scientific integrity and honesty.

Professor Paul Garner is responsible for the Centre for Evidence Synthesis in Global Health at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM). He was part of the original team that set up the Cochrane Collaboration, and currently coordinates the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group jointly with his colleague David Sinclair. They lead a network of over 300 people synthesizing research to inform global, regional and national policies in tropical infections and conditions relevant to low- and middleincome countries, and work closely with the World Health Organization and several countries in guideline development.