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Keywords:

  • research integrity;
  • validation;
  • genomic studies;
  • autonomy;
  • privacy

New high-throughput ‘omics techniques are providing exciting opportunities in clinical medicine and toxicology, especially in the development of biomarkers. In health science research there are traditional ethical considerations that are reasonably obvious, like balancing health benefits and health risks, autonomy mainly pursued by informed consent, and protecting privacy. Epidemiological studies applying new large-scale approaches (e.g., high-throughput or high-content methods and global studies that utilize biobanking of samples and produce large-scale datasets) present new challenges that call for re-evaluation of standard ethical considerations. In this context, assessment of the ethics underlying study designs, bioinformatics, and statistics applied in the generation and clinical translation of research results should also be considered. Indeed, there are ethical considerations in the research process itself, in research objectives and how research is pursued (e.g., which methodologies are selected and how they are carried out). Maintaining research integrity is critical, as demonstrated by the relatively frequent retraction of scientific papers following violations of good scientific practice. Abiding by the laws is necessary but not sufficient for good research ethics, which is and remains in the hands of the scientific community at the level of both individual scientists and organizations. Senior scientists are responsible for the transfer of research tradition to the next generation of scientists through education, mentorship, and setting an example by their own behavior, as well as by creating systems in institutions that support good research ethics. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 54:599-610, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.