The importance and the purpose of ethics codes in human communication research


Scientific Podcasts

There are numerous different types of evidence you will be asked to present at university. In addition to the traditional essay and scientific poster, the use of Podcasts is becoming increasingly common. It is actually harder than you think to produce a short concise, detailed and accurate podcast, therefore this task will help you get ahead of the game when you get to university.

Creating your Podcast

There are lots of pieces of software to create podcasts and edit them, however, the easiest would be the voice recorder on your phone, just check that it runs for long enough and you can save it in a suitable format, e.g. MP3, before you complete your master piece and find you need to do it again! Alternatively, get set up with Audacity which is free and will help you familiarize yourself with it.

The University of Southampton has produced some excellent guidance Here are three of the key tips:

  1. Write out your objective and share it at the start of the podcast.
  2. Give it structure like you would in an essay.
  3. Whilst it is important to plan a structure, sometimes it is harder to listen to someone who is reading than someone who is more naturally talking, therefore, try to have an outline and allow some natural speech.
  4. Think about the recording, pick a quiet room and speak a bit louder than normal. Do a few trial runs and check the quality.


The naked scientists produce a series of podcasts (and is also a really useful website).

Who was Henrietta Lacks?


img1In laboratories around the world, human cells grow in culture, quickly available for scientists to access. However, this was not always the case. Most human tissues will not continuously grow in culture. Cancerous cells, however, switch off the genes that normally limit exponential growth and can be grown in culture. More than 55 years ago, Henrietta Lacks had her tumor biopsied. Unknowingly, these cells were cultured and are now still used in laboratories around the world, known as the HeLa (Henrietta Lacks) line.

Henrietta never knew about the cells; she was a poor lady and never received any compensation for providing a cell line that biotechnology companies sell to laboratories all over the world. Nor did she give consent.

As the pace of biotechnology research increases, other situations arise. For example, what if you were the only person who had a rare version of a gene that provided resistance to a cancer or prevented Zika virus. Then what if a biotech company took a sample of your blood and spent millions making the next miracle drug from your DNA template? Who should benefit, the Biotech company who carried out the research or you that didn’t even know about your gene? Could you be forced to provide blood? We are on the verge of an era where genes can be patented, but who should own the rights?



At university interviews, you will often be asked to discuss ethical issues in science. This is one example that you could discuss.

Read the two articles on Henrietta Lacks.

Then produce a podcast using the guidance below


Describe Describe the story of Henrietta Lacks.
Explain Explain why cancer cells can be cultured.
Discuss Discuss the key ethical issues involved in human research and the use of genetic and cellular material.

Case Study

Henrietta Lacks was an American woman whose cervical cancer cells were the source of the HeLa cell line, which lead to numerous important scientific advances. In Feb 1951 a biopsy indicated the presence of a cervical tumor that had been previously undetected. The surgeon extracted a couple of small tissue samples: one from Henrietta’s tumor and one from healthy cervical tissue close by. However, Henrietta herself was unaware that any sample had been taken at this time it wasn’t uncommon for the patient’s tissue to be studied without consent. While her cells thrived, Henrietta got worse. By September cancer had spread throughout her body and died. However, the HeLa cells famed for their longevity continued to grow in culture after her passing. HeLa contributed to the development of drugs for example polio, Parkinson disease, and leukemia. However, until the 1970’s Henrietta’s role was unknown to her family. This spiraled debate surrounding informed consent from patients for the extraction and use of cells in research

The initial growth and death of normal human cells are tightly controlled. Cells use extracellular signals to balance the proportion and location of the division. Apoptosis can be triggered by a standard life program. On the contrary, tumor cells contribute a mechanism that gives them permission to bypass the cell cycle checkpoints and inhibit apoptosis. In cancerous cells mitosis can take place as in on and on, generating an over-abundance of cells to structure tumours.

The comportment of biomedical research, testing and investigation involving human participants increase a host of ethical and legal matters that have troubled entrepreneurs, philosophers, lawyers, policymakers, scientists, and clinicians for a long time. For that reason, the main goal and only purpose of ethics codes in human communication research is to safeguard research participants before the trial begins.

The ethical arisen issues in genetic testing include the upcoming: most importantly the correctness of evaluating, people’s privacy, confidentiality and the psychological influence. Gene testing or DNA-based tests methods and techniques used to investigate genetic disorders. Genetic testing is used for different reasons such as prenatal diagnostic tests, newborn screening, carrier screening for disease prevention. The accuracies of the genetic test procedures have the possibility for lab mistakes or errors which can be caused due to chemical contamination, sample misidentification, and human errors which can lead to serious consequences. There are uncertainties with gene tests especially with complicated illnesses like heart disease as these diseases could be accosted to multiple genes. The findings of an individual’s genetic dissimilarities due to testing, the chances of provoking anxiety due to the society’s negative perception of him or her are high. This moral matter does not only act on an individual with genetic differences. The same problem is also obvious with minority communities and their work on to fight discrimination in employment, education, criminal justice, and other aspects of our troubled society.

The objective of tissue engineering is to tailor/recreate living body parts or organs that will fully integrate with the recipient’s body. In recent biomedical studies, these issues involve the moral and ethical bearing of basic and clinical research as well as the equitable distribution of newly designed therapies. On the other hand, tissue engineering could have regard to and morally threatening because it defies nature: bodies developed in the laboratory are seen as unnatural. The introduction to vaccines and antibiotics has prolonged our life spans and improved our generic health. However, there are plenty other health issues, problems etc. including cancer, Type 1 and 2 diabetes still requires continuous research on a cellular and molecular starting point.