Connecting the dots on health research in BC: Building the foundations

This article is the second in a series designed to help readers “connect the dots” on various initiatives underway in the province that support and advance the actions outlined in Directions for Health Research in BC.

Key stakeholders involved in the consultation process to develop a health research strategy for BC identified nearly a dozen actions that they felt would help create a more vibrant, thriving health research community in the province.

One of these, Standardizing Best Practice Research Processes across BC, is supported by two province-wide projects – standardizing research contracts and harmonizing ethics approvals.

The BC Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (BCCRIN) has worked with universities, health authorities and research institutes over the past few years to develop a harmonized research contract to boost BC’s competitiveness in clinical trials research. This template may be used when a private company is interested in initiating a clinical trial at a BC academic or research institution and has the most appeal for smaller biotechnology firms who don’t have the in-house infrastructure to support contract development.

A second area where progress is being made is in the harmonization of ethics review processes for research studies. The BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative, a collaborative effort among BC’s  regional health authorities and four major research universities, is currently supporting the pilot implementation and evaluation of harmonized ethics review models. A harmonized model for the review of minimal risk studies has been underway since December 2014. A model for the review of above minimal risk studies began June 1, 2015 and will continue until the end of 2015. The aim is to have both models approved for full implementation by late 2015.

The models are designed to improve the timeliness and efficiency of the ethical review process, improve the system effectiveness for health research ethics review and facilitate maximal reciprocity between BC institutions for the ethical review of health research conducted within BC.

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