Strengthening and Sustaining the BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative

To build on the BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative’s (BCEHI) achievements in establishing harmonized ethics review of health research, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) is providing two new awards to support the initiative’s ongoing management, growth and continuous improvement.

An award has been made to Simon Fraser University (SFU) to carry out project coordination of the BCEHI for one year. Coordination efforts will support the BCEHI Advisory Committee to provide information and education related to the BCEHI, collect and analyze metrics, and develop common application materials and associated guidance documents. The BCEHI Advisory Committee steered the development and implementation of harmonized ethics review models and will continue to refine and advance the work of the initiative.

MSFHR has also provided an award to the University of British Columbia (UBC) to develop a common technology platform for harmonized ethics review over a period of 15 months. An evaluation of the minimal risk ethics review model pilot in 2015 revealed the need for a platform as an essential component of harmonized ethics review. The award will allow UBC to develop a common workspace within the UBC RISe system, an online research administration tool, that will direct the workflow for all studies that meet the definition of multi-jurisdictional research within BC. The aim is to create an efficient, effective and secure web‐based coordinated business system for harmonized ethics review, using common forms and templates customized to the needs, policies and processes of the BCEHI partner organizations.

Sarah Bennett, SFU’s manager, research ethics and Jean Ruiz, senior behavioural research ethics analyst at UBC will guide these efforts on behalf of the BCEHI partner organizations. Together these awards are meant to strengthen and sustain the BCEHI as it moves forward.

The BCEHI is a collaborative effort among British Columbia’s regional health authorities and four major research universities, who collectively conduct more than 80 percent of the province’s human subject ethics reviews. UBC represents the affiliated Research Ethics Boards at Providence Health Care, BC Cancer Agency and Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of BC.