COPY-Speakers concerned with VCU work for Philip Morris

Associated Press - July 16, 2008 7:25 PM ET

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Commonwealth University faculty members and students voiced concerns Wednesday about contract research agreements with Philip Morris, and some questioned whether taking money from the tobacco giant is ethical.

Several speakers told 18 members of a task force studying the issue that the university needs to rethink whether its researchers should sign "work-for-hire" research agreements with Philip Morris. The panel was formed in the wake of a controversy over a contract with the Richmond-based company, which has donated millions of dollars to the university.

Some faculty members questioned whether scientists could retain their academic integrity, which includes the freedom to publish all research results. But the broader issue for many is whether a university should be doing work for a company that produces a product that kills people.

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