Quick Takes: Med Student Wins New Review of Disability Case, A Researcher's Death, U. of Texas Vows Tougher Research Ethics, Economics Jobs Disappear

February 12, 2009
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Wednesday revived a lawsuit by a University of Louisville medical student with a reading disorder who sued for extra time on the United States Medical Licensing Examination. The student -- who earlier in his academic career received extra time on the ACT and MCAT -- had his request for the medical licensing test rejected, and a U.S. district court found that he failed to demonstrate discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act. But the appeals court found that because Congress last year amended the law to require broader interpretations of the right to sue under the act, the medical student should get another shot at proving his case -- this time with a lesser standard of proof. The appeals court did not rule on the merits over whether the medical student should be entitled to extra time, only that a different standard should be applied by the lower court in considering his case.
  • As anthropologists continue to debate the Pentagon program to have social scientists help military units in Afghanistan and Iraq, an article in The Boston Globe explores the case of a researcher who died in January from wounds suffered when she was attacked in Afghanistan while doing such work. A villager Paula Lloyd interviewed in Afghanistan set her on fire and she died from related injuries two months later.
  • University of Texas officials pledged Wednesday that they would toughen conflict of interest rules for researchers to assure that findings would not be tainted by financial ties to companies with a stake in the outcome, The Dallas Morning News reported. An investigation by a Senate committee has raised questions about the ties of two University of Texas researchers who work on childhood psychological conditions and drug companies. The new rules, university officials said, would include an online system for filing reports, more monitoring of ties between researchers and companies, and tougher penalties for those who fail to report required ties to companies.
  • It's not just humanities departments that are calling off searches. The Wall Street Journal reported that top economics departments, some of which have been hiring with gusto, are no longer doing so. Columbia University, which hired eight professors from other institutions and one new Ph.D. last year, isn't hiring. Searches have been suspended at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Amherst College and the University of Minnesota. And Harvard University, which typically hires two or three people out of graduate school, is only hiring one person this year.
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