The University of British Columbia (UBC) had "indefensible" deficiencies with reviews of 523 research projects approved before mid 2001 by an "overwhelmed" and underfunded ethics panel that resulted in the university "more or less" allowing investigators "to do their own ethics review," according to a review made partially available last week. Such problems with oversight, two ethics experts said, are likely widespread right across the country.

The UBC report, which has not yet been made public, was ordered later that year by its vice president of research, Indira Samarasekera. Portions of the report were released after media demands under the province's Freedom of Information Act and after requests from the province's information and privacy commissioner about why the university was withholding the information in the first place.

The problems at UBC—recently ranked third among Canadian universities in sponsored research income by Research Infosource—arose when it was learned the...

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