Luke Gelinas

Petrie-Flom Center/Harvard Catalyst

Harvard Law SchoolLuke Gelinas joined the Petrie-Flom Center in 2015 as the first Petrie-Flom Center/Harvard Catalyst Fellow in Clinical Research Ethics. He earned his PhD in 2014 from the University of Toronto, where he was a graduate fellow at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Ethics. Luke’s research interests focus primarily on the concept of informed consent. His past scholarship has explored the ethics of exploiting common heuristics and biases to nudge people during the consent process, as well as the conditions under which consent can justifiably be waived in research with humans. Currently, his work advances several projects as part of the Harvard Catalyst Regulatory Foundations, Ethics, and Law Program, with a particular emphasis on the regulatory, ethical, and practical aspects associated with recruitment and retention of research participants.

TRNDS Speaker Spotlight

Why are you participating in TRNDS 2017?

I have a passion for analyzing, understanding, and providing actionable guidance on the ethical and regulatory issues involved in clinical research. The research community needs to find ways to facilitate socially valuable research in ways that satisfy regulatory and ethical norms, particularly surrounding subject protection. Participating in TRNDS is a great way to contribute to that goal.

What do you see as the biggest opportunities for accelerating therapeutic development in the 21st century?

Our recent work has focused on the challenges of participant recruitment and the distinctively ethical issues raised by low recruitment rates. The advance of new treatments and cures depends on people participating in clinical research. Currently many studies do not meet recruitment targets and, likewise, many terminate early. In these cases, not only is valuable research delayed, subjects may be exposed to risk in studies that begin do not produce valuable or generalizable knowledge. [It is critical] to appreciate the full and distinctively ethical costs of low recruitment rates, including their negative impact on subject protection. The answer to these problems is to increase recruitment rates. At this time, the biggest opportunity to increase recruitment rates and power clinical research involves leveraging technologies such as social media and mobile apps to engage the public in clinical research.

How is the increasing use of modern technologies changing the field of clinical research?

Our work focuses on ‘public-facing’ technologies such as social media, mobile apps, and wearables. These technologies are changing the face of clinical research by making it much easier both to engage nearly all segments of the population in clinical research and to collect clinically useful data on an unprecedented scale. The opportunities for advancing clinical research through social media and smart devices are virtually endless, but must be balanced against ethical considerations of transparency and respect for privacy.

About Harvard Catalyst
Established in 2008, Harvard Catalyst | The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center is dedicated to improving human health by enabling collaboration and providing tools, training, and technologies to clinical and translational investigators. As a shared enterprise of Harvard University, Harvard Catalyst resources are made freely available to all Harvard faculty and trainees, regardless of institutional affiliation or academic degree.