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Environmental Factor

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December 2017

Ethicist David Resnik elected to AAAS

David Resnik portrait From 1998 until he joined NIEHS in 2004, Resnik was a faculty member in the Department of Medical Humanities at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

NIEHS bioethicist David Resnik, J.D., Ph.D., was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society. This year’s honorees were announced in the Nov. 20 issue of the journal Science, which the association publishes.

Resnik was surprised and thrilled by the announcement. "It’s a special honor to be recognized by my peers and by scientists as making an important contribution to science, the applications of science, and specifically, the ethics of science," he said. "It is also an honor for NIEHS, because it recognizes that the institute puts a strong emphasis on making significant contributions to the ethics of science."

Resnik is one of 396 new fellows to receive the honor this year. The group also includes six NIEHS grantees (see sidebar).

Assistance for upholding high standards

The AAAS Council, the association’s policymaking body, votes on lists submitted by each of the group’s 24 sections. Resnik was nominated by the section on History and Philosophy of Science.

"This AAAS award is significant, and a strong acknowledgement of David’s work," said NIEHS and National Toxicology Program Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D. "His voice has provided insight and assistance to all scientists for upholding the highest ethical standards."

Resnik and other new fellows will be recognized Feb. 17, 2018 at the 2018 AAAS annual meeting in Austin.

AAAS logo

The association first elected fellows in 1874. (Photo courtesy of AAAS)

Sharing ethics analyses through publication

With more than 200 articles and eight books published on various topics in philosophy and bioethics, Resnik is a prolific author in the field.

His most recent publication, with NIEHS trainee Elise Smith, Ph.D., and two co-authors from North Carolina State University, addresses the concept of recklessness in scientific research. “It brings up issues as to what your responsibilities are for supervising a project and knowing what other people are doing, and whether you could be reckless in those responsibilities, versus just being negligent,” he explained.

Resnik is also chair of the NIEHS Institutional Review Board and holds an adjunct professorship in philosophy and religion at North Carolina State University. He has been with NIEHS since 2004.

Citation: Resnik DB, Smith EM, Chen SH, Goller C. 2017. What is recklessness in scientific research? The Frank Sauer case. Account Res 24(8):497−502.

(Ernie Hood is a contract writer for the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)


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