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When is Reproducibility an Ethical Issue? Genomics, personalized medicine, and human error

NIST Colloquium image

Modern high-throughput biological assays let us ask detailed questions about how diseases operate, and promise to let us personalize therapy. Careful data processing is essential, because our intuition about what the answers "should" look like is very poor when we have to juggle thousands of things at once. When documentation of such processing is absent, we must apply "forensic bioinformatics" to work from the raw data and reported results to infer what the methods must have been. Dr. Baggerly will present several case studies where simple errors may have put patients at risk. This work has been covered both on the front page of the New York Times and by CBS' 60 Minutes, and has prompted several journals to revisit the types of information that must accompany publications. Dr. Baggerly will share his perspective on steps that should be taken to avoid these errors and present some important lessons that can be applied to NIST's efforts in biology, large data sets, statistics, and more.

Anyone outside NIST wishing to attend must be sponsored by a NIST employee and receive a visitor badge. For more information, contact Stephanie Shaw at 301-975-2667. Colloquia are videotaped and available in the NIST Research Library.

Keith Baggerly, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Created February 1, 2013, Updated January 5, 2017