In accordance with current legislation, the objectives of the Politecnico di Milano's Ethical Committee are to safeguard:
- rights, dignity, integrity and well-being of the human beings involved in research
- respect for every other living organism
- respect for the environment in every dimension and component
- freedom and promotion of science
The Committee's task is to provide opinions, assessments and checks to those undertaking scientific research, to the structures directly affected and to the Politecnico di Milano's management bodies to ensure that research takes place in accordance with the ethical principles defined by international and Italian legislation and by the University's Ethics Code, especially research themes relating to:
- human beings (data or personal marks detection, devices for surgical operations, tests and validation of new measurement and/or action devices, interviews, observations, biological sample collection, physiological measurement parameters, information gathered and used for various purposes)
- use, production and collection of human tissues and cells
- collection of personal data: research relating to the processing of information relating to physical identified or identifiable individuals
- third countries
- potential for dual use of technologies: research, technologies and information which may have military, terrorist, etc. uses, ends or exploitation
- technologies and information which could be used for unethical purposes
Increasingly the the typical research undertaken at a politecnico addresses topics that have a direct impact on human beings, their lives and interactions, society as a whole and the natural environment.
Increasingly, research raises ethical questions, but researchers are not always aware of the potential ethical implications of their projects: the technology being researched is often seen as a ‘neutral' tool, established a priori.
Awareness that this is not always the case is essential for ensuring fruitful and desirable collaboration with the Ethics Committee when required.
The Ethics Committee plays an institutional role of dialogue with researchers on the ethical aspects of their research. In addition to the formal approval of research projects, which is often a prerequisite for access to funding and the publication of results, the Committee acts as a forum to which researchers can turn for discussions on and detailed analysis of the ethical implications of their research and the courses of action to be taken.
In order to guide researchers' awareness of the potential ethical implications of research, the European Commission has prepared an important self-assessment form, which must be completed in order to apply for possible EU funding.
The Ethics Committee adopts this document and recommends it to researchers as a self-assessment tool for developing ethically compliant research proposals. It is therefore recommended that researchers refer to this document before submitting research proposals to the Ethics Committee for approval or discussion.
The following sections are particularly important:
- Section 2: Projects involving human subjects
- Section 3: Projects using human cells or tissues
- Section 4: Processing of personal data
- Section 6: Projects involving non-EU countries
- Section 7: Projects that may have undesirable consequences for the environment or human health/safety
- Section 8: Projects that use/develop Artificial Intelligence
- Section 10: Potential unethical use of research results
Also note that each section contains a useful and practical checklist that can guide the self-assessment for the preventive verification and that can positively address the research objectives.
The composition methods of the Committee, those relating to the validity of the sessions and deliberations, are set out in the Regulations of the Ethical Committee. CVs of the members of the Ethical Committee are made public in this session together with the deliberations which lead to the appointment of the President and of its components for the 2022-2024 three year period.
The responsibilities of the Ethical Committee shall not include the functions reserved by law to the ethical committees of other bodies, particularly hospital ones.