Topic: AMBI News
December 3, 2013 | Posted By Zubin Master, PhD

This is part 2 of a blog written last month. In Part 1, I explained how open access (OA) journals work and some of the shortcomings of peer review. This was done to provide a background on a recently published study by staff at the leading journal Science. In this part, I will cover the specific experiment reported by Science and explain some of the limits of its design followed by an interesting and novel model of the non-profit OA journal BioéthiqueOnline.

Part 2: Open Access Journals, Peer Review, and Conflicts of Interest

Do OA Journals Perform Rigorous Peer Review?

Recently, John Bohannon of the Science group conducted an investigation where he submitted scientifically flawed papers using fake names and provided the names of research or academic institutions that didn’t exist to 304 OA journals (Science 342: 60-65, 2013). The idea was to create a scientific paper with major errors, so that “[a]ny reviewer with more than a high-school knowledge of chemistry and the ability to understand a basic data plot should have spotted the paper’s shortcomings immediately.” Bohannon created a database of molecules, lichens and cancer cell lines and ran them through a computer program to generate unique papers, but with a standard structure: “molecule X from lichen species Y inhibits the growth of cancer cell Z.” He also created fake authors from fictitious African institutions with the hope that using developing world authors would lessen suspicion by journal editors. The main flawed graph showed a dose-dependent decrease in cell growth yet despite rising concentrations, the effects on cells were modest. In addition, the anti-proliferative molecule was dissolved in a large amount of ethanol and because the control group was not treated with the same solution buffer, the anti-proliferative effects seen could simply be due to the cytotoxic effects of ethanol. In a second experiment, Bohannon attempted to show an “interactive effect” by adding the molecule with radiation, but the control cells were not exposed to any radiation. As the experiments had a tragically flawed design, the idea was that any peer reviewer should pick them up and the article should be rejected.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

August 17, 2012 | Posted By Wayne Shelton, PhD

Sometimes we forget the accomplishments we have made in the Alden March Bioethics Institute since we began almost 20 years ago. We now have a fully integrated set of offerings in both medical education and graduation bioethics.  So I thought it was time to describe them all in a bit more detail.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute began as the Center for Medical Ethics, Education and Research in 1994. Our principal charge was to design and implement a new course as part of the curriculum reform effort that was underway called Health, Care and Society (HCS).  This was a broad course in professionalism, medical ethics and humanities that would become integrated throughout all four years of medical schools. As a required course for all medical students we began in year one, and added a new component each year until the curriculum in all four years were complete. Each year consists of about 40 hours of class work.  In the first two years a little over half the classes are in large groups on topics such as professionalism, special topics in bioethics, medical ethics case analysis, end of life care, effective communication, cultural diversity and alternative/complementary medicine; about a third of so of the classes are small group discussions. In the third and fourth years HCS is integrated into the clinical clerkships and rotations and consists primarily of small groups discussions of a wide range of topics relating to the type of patients students are encountering. One important part of HCS in the third year is in the Medicine rotation, each one consisting of nine meetings where students bring to the table real concerns and issues from cases they are directly experiencing. By now HCS has become normal part of the curriculum and students generally enjoy the chance to discuss these topics that will be so important to their careers as physicians. 

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

July 24, 2012 | Posted By Hayley Dittus-Doria, MPH

We are pleased to announce the approval of the Doctorate of Professional Studies, with a concentration in Clinical Ethics Consultation, by the New York State Education Department. This program is, to our knowledge, the first online program of its kind to offer advanced level training in the knowledge and skills of clinical ethics consultation for qualified applicants. The new program is designed specifically for working, health care professionals who possess a master’s degree in bioethics, or equivalent, and who seek a fellowship level, advanced training in clinical ethics consultation. Students will use their professional work environments as the clinical training ground as they complete advanced fellowship courses related to clinical ethics consultation and mediation, elective courses and a doctoral research project.

The fellowship courses include clinical practica in coordination with AMBI faculty and agreed upon mentors at the student’s home institutions.  At the end of the program, graduates will have a portfolio of 32 case consultation reports and will have demonstrated advanced level mastery of the ASBH Core Competencies in Clinical Ethics Consultation.

For more information, visit our website or contact Wayne Shelton at or 518-262-6423.

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers Graduate Certificates, a Master of Science in Bioethics, and a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.

February 16, 2012 | Posted By Ricki Lewis, PhD

“Are you still collecting stories about DTC testing? I've got one for you!” my grad student L.W. e-mailed a few days ago. Little did I know her family's experience would change my mind about direct-to-consumer genetic testing.

L.W. had taken my online course “Genethics” in 2008 for the master’s program at the Alden March Bioethics Institute of Albany Medical College. For one assignment, students choose a DTC testing company, peruse the website, and indicate 3 tests that they would take and 3 that they wouldn't – and why. 

As a class activity, L.W. didn’t really approach the testing seriously. “It's fun cocktail party info. ‘Why, yes, I'd love another mocha cappuccino at 9 pm. No problem... I'm a fast caffeine metabolizer!’” 

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers graduate online masters in bioethics programs. For more information on the AMBI master of bioethics online program, please visit the AMBI site.


December 1, 2010 | Posted By Posted By Hayley Dittus-Doria

Welcome to the new Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical College blog!  We are delighted to have this blog up and running.  Blog posts will be written by various faculty, alumni, students, and friends of the Alden March Bioethics Institute.  We hope you enjoy reading our posts as much as we enjoy writing them!  Please feel free to comment on or participate in any of the topics we discuss throughout.  You can find links to our Facebook and Twitter pages on the right side of the page.  You can also find links to our homepage, faculty, and graduate programs at the top.  Again, from all of us here at AMBI, welcome!

BIOETHICS TODAY is the blog of the Alden March Bioethics Institute, presenting topical and timely commentary on issues, trends, and breaking news in the broad arena of bioethics. BIOETHICS TODAY presents interviews, opinion pieces, and ongoing articles on health care policy, end-of-life decision making, emerging issues in genetics and genomics, procreative liberty and reproductive health, ethics in clinical trials, medicine and the media, distributive justice and health care delivery in developing nations, and the intersection of environmental conservation and bioethics.