Participated in PhD course on Scientific Integrity
I participated in a two-day ‘blended’ (online plus class module) course on Scientific Integrity at the VU Medical Center. The course is part of their PhD Training and Education program, and was mostly attended by PhD students in the medical field. It was interesting to learn about the issues that they struggle with in their research, especially since their choices may have severe health implications for a great number of people. At one of the class meetings, the lecturer asked us to name the biggest case of scientific fraud in the Netherlands. The answer was overwhelmingly in favor of the social psychologist Diederik Stapel, whose misconduct was covered extensively by Dutch news agencies. In contrast, very few had even heard of the option the lecturer introduced: Don Poldermans, a former cardiovascular medicine researcher (and head of his unit) whose fabricated data was used in 2009 to (mis)inform European hospital guidelines, which were not corrected until August 2014. It is very likely that his data fabrication has led to many unnecessary patient deaths. Although the online module, which was focused on an US audience, was less relevant to the Dutch context, I greatly appreciated the personal touch in the subgroup sessions, in which we openly and extensively discussed the ethical dilemmas in our own work and dissected them as a group: what would you do and why?