Over the past several years there have been a number of initiatives aimed at harmonizing human ethics review processes, both within Alberta and across Canada, particularly with regard to health research. In general, harmonization activities have focussed on developing standardized language, forms and processes across REBs as well as formal reciprocity agreements between institutions to eliminate duplicate ethics review.
In majority of cases, the starting point for any University of Alberta, Alberta Health Services (Edmonton Zone and North Zone) or Covenant Health researcher working with human participants is an application via REMO to one of the REBs administered by the University. However, if you are conducting cancer research, or collaborating with researchers from other institutions in Alberta or elsewhere there may be ways to streamline your REB review requirements.
The University of Alberta is a party to several agreements with respect to human participant research ethics review:
- The Health Research Ethics Review Process Agreement between AHS-University of Alberta-Covenant Health (2011) continues the operation of the Health Research Ethics Board which was established in 1997 as a conjoint REB serving all three institutions. Under this agreement, health research conducted by researchers from the University of Alberta, Alberta Health Services (Edmonton Zone and North Zone) or Covenant Health or using the resources or facilities of those organizations is reviewed by the Health Research Ethics Board (HREB), which is administered by the University.
- The Western Canadian Agreement with the University of British Columbia and the University of Saskatchewan (2012) covers health and non-health human participant research and it enables the REBs of those institutions to accept one another’s review and approval, subject to the requirements of the Health Information Act.
- In 2013, the College of Physicians & Surgeons, AHS, AIHS, Covenant Health, the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary signed the Research Ethics Reciprocity Agreement which establishes the jurisdiction of the REBs designated to review health research in Alberta (a requirement of the Health Information Act) and enables those REBs to accept one another’s review and approval.
- The University of Lethbridge in 2014 designated HREB to review all its research involving health information as defined under the Act.
Depending on the scope of your study and your collaborators, these agreements may help you streamline your team's ethics applications.