Per our Research Policy, the University of Alberta is committed to excellence in research based on the highest national and international standards. Compliance is expected from all personnel engaged in research, including all academic and non-academic staff, students, post-doctoral fellows and visitors.
RSO has to verify that the appropriate internal certifications and approvals (for example, human, animal, biohazards, and stem cells) have been obtained prior to activating research accounts. Researchers are responsible for acquiring the relevant certifications and approvals relevant to their research activities, and communicating this information to RSO. Researchers also have to ensure that their research activities comply with applicable laws.
Human, Animal Approvals and Release of Funds
Human and animal research ethics approvals are obtained through the Research Ethics Office (REO) and must be maintained for the duration of the research activities involving animals or humans. RSO staff must check for current and relevant approvals on all "active files"; or files that require action by RSO. These include (but are not limited to) new and renewing research projects as well as amendments such as end-date extensions, project holder changes, donation deposits, budget adjustments, agreement modifications, and so on.
Sometimes the first months or years of a grant do not involve human participant or animal use. Preparing (and reviewing) a complete ethics application during this phase of the project may be impossible. The release of funds process managed by REO enables researchers to access their funds budgeted for up to one year of the project pending preparation and approval of a fully developed ethics application. A file cannot move into the final processing queue to be processed until all ethics requirements have been fulfilled (i.e., requirements confirmed and appropriate documentation received). Wait times on active files increase significantly when certifications are not handled in a proactive manner.
All persons who have been awarded funding for a biological or medical research project must apply for biohazards approval from Environment, Health & Safety (EHS). The biohazards review process is designed to ensure that all biological or medical research occurring on campus adheres to established biosafety regulations and guidelines.
Funding for biological or medical research projects will only be released by the RSO upon receipt of a Letter of Biohazards Approval
Approval letters are sent via email and are specific to each research project. The study title and the RSO project number will be cited in body of the letter. Once granted, approval lasts for the duration of the project unless changes are made to the biohazardous materials used in the project or major changes are made to the project's experimental plan.
- Whether or not a biohazard approval is required, all research must be conducted safely and in accordance with the university’s standards. Researchers are responsible for ensuring compliance.
- A Laboratory Biosafety Registry may be confused with biohazard approval. Copies of a research group's Laboratory Biosafety Registry are not required by the RSO, nor is a registry a substitute for the Letter of Biohazards Approval that comes by email from EHS.
When Certifications Are Not Required
Even if a project does not require an approval or certification, RSO needs to keep a confirmation of this in the project file. This confirmation is often the signed grant application or researcher’s declaration on the Request for New Application/Proposal/Project form which indicates that project does not involve human participants, animal use or biohazards. Instructions can be found in the Guide to Researcher Home Page.
If none of the above have been submitted, the PI should send email email@example.com quoting the relevant project number attesting to the fact that the proposed research does not involve biohazards, animal use or human participants. Where applicable, this email should be sent as soon as the PI receives confirmation of an award. The only time that a confirmation is not required is for salary or stipend only awards.