Women's College Hospital's Research Ethics Office supports the development and management of research projects and grant proposals, as well as appropriate accountability reporting, and in the dissemination and application of research findings. It also provides support for women's health students at Women's College Hospital and the University of Toronto.
Research Ethics Board (REB)
The Research Ethics Board oversees all research involving human participants conducted under the auspices of Women's College Hospital. The REB ensures that research studies meet the highest scientific and ethical standards in order to protect patients, investigators, and the institution. All research involving human participants within or on behalf of Women's College Hospital must be approved by the Research Ethics Board before initiation of a research project.
The REB is responsible for:
- Ensuring that all research proposals involving human participants or human materials being conducted at or under the auspices of Women's College Hospital meet the highest ethical and scientific standards;
- Ensuring that all protocols have a favorable risk/benefit ratio for research participants and respect a person’s right for self-determination and autonomy;
- Ensuring equitable distribution of the benefits and burdens of Research;
- Monitoring on-going Research activities at Women's College Hospital to ensure that ethical standards as outlined in the Tri-Council Policy Statement are maintained throughout the course of investigations;
- Recommending policies and procedures governing ethical conduct of research at Women’s College Hospital;
- Acting as a resource on matters of research ethics for Women's College Hospital.
For clinical trials, the REB strongly recommends that investigators and sponsors adhere to the SPIRIT guidance when drafting and submitting their protocols for review. SPIRIT defines a minimum list of elements that should be addressed in a trial protocol, and provides detailed guidance with examples and references.
An incomplete protocol can make it difficult for research ethics boards and other external reviewers to understand the trial – leading to time wasted on protocol revisions, and delays in approval and enrolling participants. Incomplete protocols can also lead to inconsistent trial implementation and in the worst case, trials that produce unreliable data. Whereas high-quality protocols can promote transparency, while saving time and money, to do a better job of protecting trial participants, and produce better data.