U of L partners in research ethics agreement

The University of Lethbridge is pleased to partner in a Research Ethics Reciprocity Agreement for the review of multi-site health research.

This agreement, signed by Dr. Dan Weeks (Vice-President, Research) and Dr. Monique Sedgwick (Chair, Human Subject Research Committee), will streamline the process of ethics review application for studies that are conducted across multiple research jurisdictions.

Once implemented, ethics review applications for multi-site studies need only be submitted at one institution or agency, rather than at each research site as has been the practice to date. The agreement is good news for researchers who will see these process efficiencies translated into savings in time, resources and competitiveness. It is also good news for research and development companies that want to invest in Alberta. A harmonized process for health research ethics review translates into cost savings and value added investment.

Alberta is the first jurisdiction in Canada to have a harmonized ethics review process for multi-jurisdictional health research through the signing of the Research Ethics Reciprocity Agreement. This is a legal agreement among six major institutions and agencies that have Research Ethics Boards which perform and oversee reviews of ethics for health research.

These partners are: University of Alberta, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta, Alberta Health Services, and Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions. Alberta Health and Wellness, and Advanced Education and Technology provided valuable advice.

The agreement is the result of a collaborative process among the partners, initiated by the Chairs of the Health Research Ethics Boards (the Council of Chairs), and is the first step in a strategic plan developed last year by the Chairs in consultation with key stakeholders.

Once implemented, the agreement will streamline the process of ethics review for multi-site health research studies and response time to health research ethics review requests.

Currently, researchers who are part of networks, collaborations, partnerships or teams involving other institutions need to apply for ethics approval at each institution for the same research, a process that can cost researchers valuable time and resources.