press information / news

World Economic Forum

Helmholtz scientist contributes to Code of Ethics

A Code of Ethics for Researchers is soon to be launched at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. The paper for scientists and the general public has been written by the WEF Young Scientist community. Among the authors is Prof. Maria Elena Torres-Padilla of Helmholtz Zentrum München. The aim of the new code is upholding good scientific research practice and to strengthen trust in science and its processes.

© World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum Young Scientist Community is made up of 40 young scientists, selected for their outstanding contributions to scientific advancement. Composed of individuals from all over the world and working in diverse scientific disciplines, the community is well positioned to unite on issues that affect the world as a whole and initiate global change. Now, the Young Scientist Community has written a Code of Ethics for researchers in which they address what it takes to be an ethical scientist today and present the importance of contributing to a positive research environment and trust therein around the globe. In initiating this change, individual scientists, working groups and institutions have a means to see through their responsibility of conducting robust, open research and engage with the public.

Maria Elena Torres-Padilla, director of the Institute of Epigenetics and Stem Cells at Helmholtz Zentrum München, is a member of the Young Scientists Community and contributed to writing the Code of Ethics. “The purpose of the code is to provide comprehensive but simple guidelines for both scientists and the public on how the scientific process can be improved” explains Torres-Padilla, who was part of the Steering Committee of the Code. “In addition to research ethics, the code also sets out guidelines for mentoring, public engagement and our responsibility as scientists to engage with decision makers.”

The full code of ethics can be viewed here:

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus, allergies and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,500 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 19 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 37,000 staff members. 

The research of the Institute of Epigenetics and Stem Cells (IES) is focused on the characterization of early events in mammalian embryos. The scientists are especially interested in the totipotency of cells which is lost during development. Moreover, they want to elucidate who this loss is caused by changes in the nucleus. Their main goal is to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms which might lead to the development of new therapeutic approaches.