This site uses session cookies and persistent cookies to improve the content and structure of the site.

By clicking “ Accept All Cookies ”, you agree to the storing of cookies on this device to enhance site navigation and content, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.

By clicking ' See cookie policy ' you can review and change your cookie preferences and enable the ones you agree to.

By dismissing this banner , you are rejecting all cookies and therefore we will not store any cookies on this device.

#StepForward Become a REC member

Are you looking for a voluntary role where you can make a real difference?

Whether you’ve got experience of working in research, or none at all, we’re looking for people like you to join our Research Ethics Committees (REC) and help review vital health and social care research.

Please note, if you’re applying as a Lay member we are experiencing a high volume of applications at the moment. This means that you may need to wait longer to receive an interview date. We apologise for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience during this time. If you have any further questions please email our member recruitment team .

#StepForward and get involved in approving exciting new research and apply today.

StepForward image 1.png

What does a Research Ethics Committee (REC) do?

Our REC members give their time freely to help protect the dignity, rights and safety of anyone who gets involved as a research participant, by reviewing research studies that will take place in the NHS and social care.

As a REC member you will help facilitate ethical research that aims to provide evidence for improving or changing practice for some of the biggest challenges in health and social care, including cancer, dementia and COVID-19.

You will be part of a committee of around 15 people who meet virtually to review applications for research approval.

Find out more about our Research Ethics Committees .

Different types of REC membership

Our committees are made up of a variety of people who bring different skills and experiences. This is important to make sure that we have insight from different perspectives. Everyone’s view is equally important.

You can apply to become a:

  • lay member - people who are not registered healthcare professionals and whose primary professional interest is not in clinical research, for example retired healthcare professionals (excluding retired doctors) and those involved in the management or administration of clinical research
  • lay-plus member – members of the public who have never worked in healthcare or research and have never been a member of a health service body
  • expert member - registered healthcare professionals, clinical trial statisticians and other experts in research

All our members have a shared goal; to ensure that research that is carried out in the NHS is safe, ethical and fair and is respectful of participants’ dignity and rights.

You can also apply to role share with someone else to share the workload of being part of a REC.

How to #StepForward and join a REC committee

If you want to play a crucial role in approving new health and social care research, apply today by completing this application form .

Please note, we are only accepting applications for lay plus (members of the public) and expert (registered health and social care professionals) roles at the moment. We will re-open applications for lay roles (people with experience in managing research or research governance) when vacancies arise. If you have any further questions please email our member support team who would be happy to help.

When filling out your application, you will need to complete a covering statement, to help you write this please refer to the person specification.

If you’re successful in being shortlisted, we will invite you to an interview where you will be asked to complete a short assessment. This will involve reading a research application which we will discuss on the day.

If you have any questions around the form or joining a REC, please email our membership team.

What skills do I need?

To join as a lay-plus member you do not need any prior experience to get involved. We really need people who have no prior research or healthcare experience to give their perspective on studies being reviewed.

If you are applying for a lay or expert member role you will need to have relevant experience outlined above for the role.

Whatever your experience, we will provide you with all the training and support you need.

As a member you’ll need to be confident in:

  • reading, understanding and analysing complex issues and weigh up conflicting opinions
  • taking an objective stance and looking at a situation from several perspectives
  • communicating with a group and voicing your opinions
  • working online, accessing and reviewing documents online and attending meetings virtually via Zoom

You will also have the opportunity to be mentored by an experienced REC member who can support you in your new role.

What you will do as a REC member

As a REC member you will attend monthly meetings online via Zoom.

We ask that members attend a minimum of six meetings a year. Meeting last about half a day and require five to six hours of reading to prepare in advance.

Members also review research applications and amendments to approved studies online through our members’ portal or via email.

Outside of meetings you will take part in sub-committee work via email. This involves reviewing applications with no material ethical issues or reviewing amendments to approved research. Members usually get in involved in sub-committee work two to three times a year, with two hours of reading for in advance for each sub-committee meeting.

What we can offer you in return for your time

We will give you an in-depth induction and training, as well as equality, diversity and human rights training.

You will also gain:

  • valuable skills and experience for your CV
  • in-depth understanding of research ethics
  • knowledge of research methodologies and statistics
  • detailed knowledge of relevant legislation
  • specialised knowledge of important areas of research, for example paediatric research or adults lacking capacity to give consent
  • practical skills from working as part of a committee, for example summarising points, debating, evaluating and decision making
  • members with a clinical background will also earn Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points

You will also have the opportunity to attend a REC development day once a year where you can meet fellow members and staff from across the HRA. 

Any travel expenses you incur as part of your role will be reimbursed.

Meet our REC members

Our REC members come from all different backgrounds and use their valuable personal and professional experience when making decisions.

You can find out more about our REC members and why they joined us on our meet our REC members page.

Attend a REC meeting

If you would like to find out more about the work our Research Ethics Committees do before applying to become a member why not come along and observe a meeting?

Meetings are held regularly throughout the week at different times, so if you’d like to come along please email our membership team.

Find out more

For more information:

  • information for potential members
  • REC member interview dates
  • policy and procedure for the recruitment and selection of REC members
  • Privacy notice
  • Terms & conditions
  • Accessibility statement
  • Feedback or concerns

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The .gov means it’s official. Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

The site is secure. The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

  • Publications
  • Account settings

Preview improvements coming to the PMC website in October 2024. Learn More or Try it out now .

  • Advanced Search
  • Journal List
  • J Korean Med Sci
  • v.38(25); 2023 Jun 26
  • PMC10293659

Logo of jkms

Ethics Committees: Structure, Roles, and Issues

Pankti mehta.

1 Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, India.

Olena Zimba

2 Department of Clinical Rheumatology and Immunology, University Hospital in Krakow, Krakow, Poland.

3 National Institute of Geriatrics, Rheumatology and Rehabilitation, Warsaw, Poland.

4 Department of Internal Medicine N2, Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University, Lviv, Ukraine.

Armen Yuri Gasparyan

5 Departments of Rheumatology and Research and Development, Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust (Teaching Trust of the University of Birmingham, UK), Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, UK.

Birzhan Seiil

6 Department of Biology and Biochemistry, South Kazakhstan Medical Academy, Shymkent, Kazakhstan.

Marlen Yessirkepov

An Ethics Committee (EC) is an independent body composed of members with expertise in both scientific and nonscientific arenas which functions to ensure the protection of human rights and the well-being of research subjects based on six basic principles of autonomy, justice, beneficence, nonmaleficence, confidentiality, and honesty. MEDLINE, Scopus, and Directory of Open Access Journals were searched for studies relevant to this topic. This review is focused on the types of research articles that need EC approval, the submission process, and exemptions. It further highlights the constitution of ECs, their duties, the review process, and the assessment of the risk-benefit of the proposed research including privacy issues. It’s pertinent for academicians and researchers to abide by the rules and regulations put forth by ECs for upholding of human rights and protecting research subjects primarily, as well as avoiding other issues like retraction of publications. Despite various issues of cost, backlogs, lack of expertise, lesser representation of laypersons, need for multiple approvals for multisite projects, conflicts of interest, and monitoring of ongoing research for the continued safety of participants, the ECs form the central force in regulating research and participant safety. Data safety and monitoring boards complement the ECs for carrying out continuous monitoring for better protection of research subjects. The establishment of ECs has ensured safe study designs, the safety of human subjects along with the protection of researchers from before the initiation until the completion of a study.

Graphical Abstract

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is jkms-38-e198-abf001.jpg


The journey of the role of ethics in biomedical research began with “The Doctor’s Trial” post-World War II in which 23 doctors and administrators were tried for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and conducting research without informed consent. This judgment, known as the “Nuremberg Code” was one of the first international ethical standards which gave a ten-point rule with respect to the protection of human research participants. The core principle was the requirement of voluntary consent of human subjects and respecting human autonomy. 1 , 2

However, some researchers continued to ignore the code and violations like the Willow Brook Hepatitis Study (1956), Jewish Chronic Disease Study (1963), and 22 others were highlighted by Beecher in 1966. 3 , 4 This led to the composition of the Declaration of Helsinki by the World Medical Association in Finland in 1964 with revisions at regular intervals. 5 This affirmed the principles highlighted in the Nuremberg Code stating that research should be conducted upholding the interests and rights of the human subjects. It proposed for the first time, the submission of a research protocol to an ethics committee (EC) before the initiation of the study ( Fig. 1 ). 6

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is jkms-38-e198-g001.jpg

EC refers to “Committees established by professional societies, health facilities, or other institutions to consider decisions that have bioethical implications. The role of these committees may include consultation, education, mediation, and/or review of policies and practices.” Committees that consider the ethical dimensions of patient care are Clinical ECs whereas committees established to protect the welfare of research subjects are Research ECs. 7 In this review, we will be using the terms ECs and Research ECs interchangeably.

It was in the 1960s that most nations developed guidelines regarding the formation of ECs with the main task of protection of human subjects. 8 EC is an independent body composed of members with expertise in both scientific and nonscientific arenas which functions to ensure the protection of human rights and the well-being of research subjects. ECs can be of two types—Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) or Institutional ECs (IECs) (referred to IRB or IEC by different countries) that are formally constituted by an institution to review research projects for that institute. An independent EC is an autonomous EC that is not part of any institute and performs the same functions independently. It is helpful for institutes that don’t have an IRB.

Despite these regulations, the unethical standards of the Tuskegee Syphilis study emerged in 1972 in which treatment was denied to the participants in order to study the natural course of the disease. This was followed by the conversion of the National Research Act in the USA into law (1974) and the setting up of the national commission of ‘International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects’ that submitted the Belmont report in 1979. The Belmont report described the role of assessment of risk-benefit of research involving human subjects, appropriate guidelines for selection of human subjects, and definition of informed consent. It was based on the three pillars of ethics- respect, beneficence, and justice. 9 , 10 It stressed the need for the approval of studies by an EC in accordance with the 1975 revision of the World Medical Association in Tokyo. Subsequently, countries like China, India, and South Korea adopted and legalized the need for submission of protocols to ECs from the 1980s onwards. 11 , 12 , 13 , 14

ECs function on six basic principles 15 :

  • 1. Autonomy: respect the patient’s right to act on his/her own value and choice.
  • 2. Justice: fair treatment of the research subjects.
  • 3. Beneficence: work for the benefit of the patient.
  • 4. Nonmaleficence: primum non-nocere or first do no harm to the patient.
  • 5. Confidentiality: privacy protection.
  • 6. Honesty: truthfulness in terms of the study.

Ethics approval is required for most research studies to uphold the above-mentioned principles, and protect the participants as well as the researcher. 16

In this narrative review, we aim to study the structure and function of ECs or IRBs with a focus on the composition, role, violations, and development perspectives of ECs.

Searches through MEDLINE (PubMed) and Scopus were performed in line with previously published recommendations. 17

Articles published till March 15, 2023 were reviewed using the following keywords: ("Ethics Committees, Clinical/classification"[Mesh] OR "Ethics Committees, Clinical/economics"[Mesh] OR "Ethics Committees, Clinical/ethics"[Mesh] OR "Ethics Committees, Clinical/history"[Mesh] OR "Ethics Committees, Clinical/legislation and jurisprudence"[Mesh] OR "Ethics Committees, Clinical/organization AND administration"[Mesh] OR "Ethics Committees, Clinical/standards"[Mesh] OR "Ethics Committees, Clinical/statistics and numerical data"[Mesh] OR "Ethics Committees, Clinical/trends"[Mesh]). Additional searches about subtopics were also carried out (“Data Safety Monitoring Boards” OR “Independent Data Review Committees”, “Institutional Review Boards” OR “Ethics Committees” and “Problems” OR “Issues”).

Articles in languages other than English, and reviews, conference proceedings, and editorials were excluded. Relevant articles searchable at the Directory of Open Access Journals and references of included articles were also processed for eligibility and inclusion for this narrative review. 18 , 19 , 20 , 21


IRB approval is required for most research to protect human rights and assess the scientific soundness of the research. For this, we first need to understand what research is. Research is defined as “a systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge” ( Table 1 ). 8

IRB = Institutional Review Board.

An EC approval is required for studies with more than minimal risk to the subjects where the intention is to publish findings or contribute to the scientific knowledge, studies involving the compilation or analysis of data containing patient identifying information, studies with any risk of physical or mental discomfort to participants or their families, and studies on vulnerable groups. 22 Minimal risk refers to the probability of discomfort posed by the research is not greater than that ordinarily encountered in routine daily life activities of an average healthy individual. 5 , 8 , 22

Thus, even surveys and archived data that contain patient identifying information (name, age, address) and sensitive information (illicit drug use, comorbidities, communicable diseases, e.g., HIV AIDS) need ethical approval to uphold the privacy and anonymity of the participants as well as protection the possibility of psychological discomfort to them. 10 , 23 , 24 , 25

Some studies may be exempted from ethical approval including most educational research, case reports on one to three patients (without any hypothesis testing), those that pose no risk to the participants, involve information freely available in the open domain for the community, analysis of open-source datasets or anonymized datasets obtained from other researchers with due informed consent taken at the time of primary data collection, research evaluating the public health programs or government public schemes. 26 , 27 However, a formal exemption is to be decided by the IRB and not the investigator. 8 , 28

For projects requiring an EC approval, the type of reviews includes expedited and a full board review. Expedited review is for research involving no more than minimal risk to the subjects, minor revisions of an already approved study, and is usually conducted by an experienced person or the chair of the IRB. A full board review on the other hand is for research with greater than minimal risk to the subjects or those involving vulnerable populations. This is reviewed extensively by a full IRB meeting.

The documents usually required for a full ethics review include the name of the applicant with designation, approval of the head of the department, research/trial protocol, ethical issues if any, and plans to address them, written informed consent form (and assent forms) in the language the participant understands, data collection tools, patient information sheet, regulatory clearances (e.g., Drug Controller General of India in India for drug trials), finance and funding details, Insurance, statement of conflicts of interest, information about payment or compensation to the subjects, scientific or departmental review board permission, Curriculum Vitae of the investigators, declaration of interests and any other relevant information. 29 , 30 Waivers of consent may be provided for no more than minimal risk to the subjects when the waiver will not endanger the rights and welfare of the subjects like retrospective studies, secondary analysis of data wherein consent had been taken previously, use of open access databases with anonymized data, and emergency research as seen fit by the EC. 31 , 32 In emergencies like the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, waivers may be provided if the patient is incapacitated or in life-threatening situations where there is no time for informed consent. Pandemics like these may even call for common documents for risk disclosure and audio/video/electronic consent. 33 , 34


ECs have the primary responsibility of reviewing research and its alignment with the Good Clinical Practice (GCP) guidelines. 35 The research design must be scientifically sound and conducted in an ethical way to include human subjects with voluntary informed consent.

The composition of ECs varies depending on the country, center, volume, and nature of the research reviewed. However, there are some basic recommendations laid down by national authorities and GCP. 30

  • a) Most countries in Europe, the USA, and South Korea have a requirement of at least five members whereas recommendations in China and India need a minimum of seven members and a maximum of 12–15 members. 14 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39
  • b) At least one member who is autonomous, independent of the institution or trial site. It is mandatory that the chairperson of the EC is not part of the institution where the research is to be conducted.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is jkms-38-e198-g002.jpg

Others include a member secretary from within the institution and members from the scientific field. The composition should have an adequate gender and age representation with a blend of basic scientists, clinician scientists, one legal expert, one social scientist, one philosopher, and one layperson. Review of research involving vulnerable populations like children, pregnant women, handicapped, prisoners, etc., must involve one member with expertise in dealing with that population. 40 , 41 It is also desirable to have a member or expert advisor for special areas of research who has proficiency in that field.


The chairperson has the primary responsibility of independent and smooth functioning of the EC, ensuring the participation of all members, seeking Conflict of Interests from all members, and handling complaints against the researchers and EC members. 39 It’s the responsibility of the member secretary to schedule EC meetings, handle documentation, organize an effective review of proposals, define and maintain adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs), train EC members, and assess the need for expedited reviews/exemption from review. 39 The members of the scientific community have the primary responsibility of reviewing the research protocols and their scientific soundness. The non-scientist member is crucial to safeguard the human subjects and practical issues of the research. 40 , 41 However, studies have shown lesser participation by laypersons as compared to scientific members. A study conducted across 10 academic centers across the USA with 20 IRB meetings recorded noted that 29 community members were present in 17 of those meetings. They were primary reviewers in only two of the 93 submitted protocols due to refusal on grounds of lack of knowledge regarding medical research. Even as secondary and tertiary reviewers, they were less active and were more likely to focus on issues related to confidentiality. However, they played a greater role when they were not designated reviewers. 42

The EC or IRBs function to review and approve research protocols, monitor ongoing research involving human subjects with the aims of continual protection of human volunteers, advancement of research, and protecting the institute from litigation. Its main role is the protection of the human rights, autonomy, confidentiality, and welfare of the research subjects especially vulnerable populations. The GCP recommends the following for duties of the IRB ( Table 2 , Fig. 3 ) 35 :

e.g., An immunosuppressive drug “X” being evaluated for patients with Lupus Nephritis.

IRB = Institutional Review Board, SOC = standard of care, GCP = Good Clinical Practice, MMF = mycophenolate mofetil, CYC = cyclophosphamide, ICU = intensive care unit, SOP = standard operating procedure, RCT = randomized controlled trial.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is jkms-38-e198-g003.jpg

  • • The IRB should obtain and review all the necessary documents for the research/trial within a reasonable time and document its views following standardized operating procedures with clear identification of the dates for approval, modifications, disapproval, or termination of an ongoing trial that was initially approved in writing.
  • • Qualification of the investigators should be considered for the proposed research.
  • • Reviewing of ongoing research as appropriate to the risks involved (at least once a year).
  • • Protocols indicating exemption of prior consent of the subject or their legally acceptable representative (e.g., emergency situations) should be assessed in detail for all the regulatory needs.
  • • Review the sum and method of compensatory payment to subjects if required.
  • • Functions should be performed as per written SOPs which should comply with the GCP guideline.

Most IRBs conduct meetings regularly (one–two per month depending on the number of protocols) and SOPs are followed as per the national governing authority.

An EC review is a continuous process and is needed before the initiation of research, before the extension of the approval period, prior to modifications to an already approved study, for monitoring of any adverse events, and until all the data collection and analysis is complete. 8 An oversight to the monitoring of trials (usually single center, early phase, less risky) is provided by the IRBs through annual reviews, adverse event monitoring, and reporting of undue events by the principal investigator (PI). However, complex clinical trials and/or multicenter, randomized controlled trials, interventional studies with pre-existing concerns about safety, or study participants who might need additional protection through an additional committee referred to as the Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB). 43 , 44


The role of the EC is not only to provide direct protection to human subjects from physical or mental harm but also to weigh the risks and benefits involved in the research. It must be assessed if the study is designed to add to the current scientific knowledge base and help society. 8

The research protocol is the document that includes the research question, aims and objectives, a critical literature review, methodology, and statistical plan. It is pertinent that the IRB reviews the protocol with respect to the clarity and focus of the research question; and whether the study design is suitable to answer the same. This is decided by the chair or a special departmental committee ( Table 2 , Fig. 3 ).

Privacy and confidentiality are a part and parcel of every physician-patient relationship. Needless to say, this must be maintained in a researcher-human subject relationship as well. It helps build trust, curbs participant anxiety, maintains their dignity, and above all their autonomy. 10 The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors recommends that authors must ensure that nonessential information like names, initials hospital record numbers, etc., are omitted during data collection, storage, and publication whenever possible. 45 However, there’s an extent to which this confidentiality can be maintained. Information required for scientific purposes (e.g., clinical photographs) or those with mandated legal reporting may breach participant privacy. This needs to be explained to the participant and recorded in written informed consent ( Table 2 ).

The role of the IRB with respect to privacy and confidentiality is to:

  • • Review the consent document and assess the sensitivity of the information, the duration for which it will be held, the usefulness of the information, and the ability to protect it.
  • • For multicenter projects, review the measures taken by the research team to maintain the privacy of the research subjects including the number of personnel with access to the information, data storage, and transfer.
  • • An ongoing review of the research must include monitoring of confidentiality issues to check for maintenance of the same and the need for a revised privacy protection plan.
  • • Educate researchers and IRB members regarding the data privacy and protection process. 46

Review of informed consent by IRBs is especially important in low-middle-income countries. There are various issues related to the lack of understanding of the information provided, maintaining privacy due to interference by family members, and the inability to assess risk and benefit by the research participant. IRBs have an additional responsibility to ensure that studies have minimal/no risk to the participant, the consent forms are clear and simple to understand and ensure the proper process of obtaining informed consent is being followed without undue pressure or coercion to participate in the study. 47


Violations of IRB approval rules like lack of approval, lack of approval of modifications to the protocol, and lack of informed consent can result in dire aftermaths for the authors. It can result in the withdrawal of the article if it’s still in press, retraction if it’s already published, and even removal if it has legal consequences. The number of papers retracted as searched on the retraction database 48 is steadily increasing by the decade from 474 in the 1990s to 6120 in the 2010s. The most common reason for retraction is plagiarism whereas violation of IRB rules accounts for 4–5% of all retractions. 49 , 50 When consultations for ethical inquiries to the Korean Association of Medical Journal Editor were analyzed, the most common reason was duplicate publications (12 of 80) with issues with IRB approval (5 of 80) and informed consent (6 of 80). 51 Some of the examples of types of studies and their reasons for retractions have been summarized in Table 3 .

Violations can be assessed before the studies are published for those with IRB approval. It is the responsibility of the IRBs to monitor whether ongoing studies are abiding by the ethical regulations and whether the approved protocol is being followed. A study conducted in India by an IRB at a tertiary care hospital in Mumbai monitored 12 clinical trials from 2011–2017. The most common violations were related to informed consent, followed by a lack of understanding of protocol and protocol deviations. This was corrected by re-taking of the informed consent and retraining in GCP by the IRB. 52 A similar study in Uganda done from 2007–2010 with monitoring of 40 research projects also found a similar frequency and reasons for violations. 53

Journal editors routinely check if a statement mentioning whether ethics approval was sought has been mentioned in the manuscript. Depending on the journal and type of article, further details of the EC approval can be sought by the journal editorial board. 54


ECs were developed to provide ethical oversight to clinical research. But here are various issues associated with the functioning of IRBs.

  • • Composition: Most studies indicate a skewed gender representation in the structure IRBs. Further, the participation of laypersons on the board is minimal. 14 , 42 , 55 , 56 , 57
  • • Overburdened IRBs, delays, and operational costs: The IRB reviews have been associated with delays from over 4 to 7 months on average from surveys conducted across the USA. 58 , 59 A delay in biomedical research can translate into more than monetary loss as biomedical research saves lives and a delay in the approvals can result in greater loss of life. 60 An older survey conducted across 63 institutions (with 20 being low volume, 24 intermediate volume, and 19 being high volume centers) in the USA in 2005 reported the median amount spent by academic medical centers on IRB was $750,000/year with an average of $559 per review. The main costs are divided across staff salary, board salary, space, outsourcing of the reviews, travel, supplies, and equipment. 61 Over the years, there is a definite increase in the number of ongoing research projects thus increasing these costs further. Furthermore, documentation of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letters to IRBs was predominantly related to paperwork stressing on documentation of reviews and meetings rather than ethical issues. 62 Increasing paperwork further results in delays and added costs. These deficiencies are more marked in developing nations like India and China dealing with issues like lack of regulation, informal ethics reviews, lack of supervision, and insufficient ethics review capacity. 63 , 64
  • • Multi-site projects: With multicenter projects on the rise, a single protocol is often reviewed by multiple IRBs. In a review of 17 articles reported from UK, USA and Europe, which underwent multiple IRB reviews of the same protocol there were discrepancies in the judgment. Five of 26 reported rejection at some and acceptance by some IRBs. However, there were great differences in the protocol revisions, consent, patient information sheets, risk-benefit assessment, and compensation arrangements. 65 Keeping these issues in mind, the Common Rule in the USA was revised in 2017 with IRB approval required only from one center for multisite projects. 66 This may be extrapolated to other nations or consideration of an expedited review at other sites when fully reviewed at one IRB can be considered.
  • • Independent EC and IEC: Independent ECs have inherent tissues of limitation of knowledge about the local community and use of these may promote IRB shopping. Whereas, local IRBs can have conflicts of interest as colleagues of investigators may be on the review board. Thus, a central IRB can alleviate some of these concerns by avoiding repetitive reviews, minimizing conflicts, and establishing a centralized adverse event reporting system. 67 , 68 , 69 A central IRB can be formed by experts on a particular subject or by a group of institutes like the National Cancer Institute’s Central IRB and the Biomedical Research Alliance of New York respectively. 70 , 71
  • • Scientific expertise of the IRB reviewers: The IRB reviewers may lack the scientific expertise to review sophisticated research projects that may affect the quality of the research. 11 , 14 , 57 , 72 Regular training in research ethics and GCP along with adequate consultations with external experts is needed. This can be done at a national, regional, and international level. First, by identifying core issues and then solutions for them by focused training. 73 Training of EC members is conducted across Central Asia and Eastern Europe under the framework of Forum for Ethics Committees in the Confederation of Independent States and Strategic Initiative for Developing Capacity in Ethical Review program that train members regarding GCP, bioethics, the establishment of an EC, review processes and SOPs, choosing independent consultants, and confidentiality agreements. 74
  • • Review of studies involving complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) is a challenge due to the lack of quality evidence to support the basis for their use. Moreover, most international regulatory bodies and research regulations do not address CIM, thus leaving the review process and decision-making to the IRBs. However, it is to be emphasized here studies irrespective of the type (modern or CIM) must be reviewed using the same principles of respect, beneficence, and justice. Well-designed studies on CIM are essential to ascertain the health and safety of patients. 75

DSMB is defined by the FDA, USA as “a group of individuals with pertinent scientific expertise that review research data of an ongoing trial on a regular basis, advises the sponsor/or researcher regarding the continuing safety of research subjects and those yet to be recruited into the research trial, and advises as to the continuing validity and scientific merit of the trial.” 76 It’s an autonomous entity independent of the researchers, sponsors, and the IRB so as to control data sharing and protect the authenticity of the clinical trial from unfavorable impact. 35 It was first developed in the USA in the 1960s as the NIH began sponsoring multicenter trials, the first trial was the Coronary Drug Project which used a DSMB for monitoring. 77 Over time, it became a common practice for the sponsors to have experienced scientific personnel serving on these committees. Although the FDA does not mandate DSMB for all trials, DSMBs are generally recommended for large, multi-site studies evaluating treatments that intend to reduce mortality and morbidity.

DSMBs are usually constituted for:

  • • The study outcome is such that a highly encouraging or detrimental result is a possibility in an interim analysis that may require an early termination of the study on ethical grounds.
  • • When the safety concerns are high, e.g., invasive therapy is administered.
  • • Previous data suggesting serious toxicity with the study treatment.
  • • Studies involving vulnerable populations.
  • • Studies including subjects at an increased risk of death or serious outcomes.
  • • Large, multisite, long-duration studies.

In India, it is recommended by the Indian GCP guidelines that the sponsor may establish a DSMB to assess the progress of the trial, and in 2006 Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) mandated a DSMB to review data emerging from research on interventions in the emergency setting. 39 These were updated in 2012 by the ICMR to include all stem cell research involving human subjects. The SOPs for the constitution and responsibilities of the DSMB are laid down by the World Health Organization and are similar across USA, Europe, and South Korea. 78 , 79

DSMBs are constituted by scientific members and are appointed by the funding agency, before the recruitment of the first subject in the trial. It can consist of as few as three members and is typically constituted of clinicians and at least one biostatistician. Others that may be included are medical ethicists, other scientists, etc. The most important requisite is that the members should be independent of the sponsors, investigators IRBs, regulatory authorities, and site or study staff. They should have no conflicts of interest with the sponsors, researchers, or study staff.

The functions of the DSMB are:

  • • To uphold participant safety.
  • • Ensure credibility and integrity of the trial for future subjects.
  • • Ensure the timely conclusion of the study so that the results can be disseminated.
  • • Identify protocol violations if any.
  • • Identify unexpectedly high dropouts and evaluate for the same.
  • • Ensure the validity of the results.

The above functions are carried out by an initial organizational meeting to understand the protocol and safety monitoring plan followed by an early safety review meeting to review early safety information. Continuing periodic reviews to assess safety, efficacy, and the progress of the trial are then carried out with reporting of serious adverse events. 44 A final meeting is to be held at the termination of a study. DSMBs function independently of the IRBS but the PIs must submit DSMB reports or minutes to the IRB.

Dramatic instances in which trials have been stopped prematurely on the recommendation of the DSMB include the withdrawal of rofecoxib and celecoxib in two trials on the prevention of colonic polyps due to increased cardiovascular events. 80 , 81

We have come a long way from the horrific ethical compromises in clinical studies in history to establishing adequate safety for the human subjects participating in clinical research today. The establishment of the IRB or EC has ensured safe study designs and the safety of human subjects right from before the study initiation until its completion. This is further supplanted by additional boards like DSMBs. However, we still need studies assessing the outcomes of the ECs on a global basis and addressing various issues that are still pertinent to the working of the ECs. 82

Disclosures: The authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

Author Contributions:

  • Conceptualization: Mehta P, Zimba O, Gasparyan AY, Seiil B, Yessirkepov M.
  • Data curation: Mehta P.
  • Writing - original draft: Mehta P.
  • Writing - review & editing: Mehta P, Zimba O, Gasparyan AY, Seiil B, Yessirkepov M.
  • Subscribe to our Newsletter

popular searches

The Concordat to Support Research Integrity

Upcoming Webinar Series


Annual Conference

Research Ethics Support and Review

Code of Practice for Research

Checklist for Researchers

Checklist during COVID-19

Case Study Packs

Researcher Checklist of Ethics Applications

Concordat Self-Assessment Tool

What is a Research Ethics Committee?

  • Newsletter issues

Research ethics committees (RECs) are an important part of a healthy research culture. Their role is to consider the ethical implications of research. Traditionally this has focussed on the need to protect research participants (both human and animal), but in recent years their role in supporting researchers, and promoting research integrity more generally, has been increasingly recognised.

Two types of RECs

It is important to distinguish two types of research ethics committees. The first type is often set up to consider ethical issues that may be relevant to researchers working in specific areas. These might include the ethics of research into genetic modification, climate engineering, dual-use research (e.g., research with military applications), or research using potentially contentious methodologies such as “ human challenge ” trials (where participants are intentionally infected with diseases such as COVID). As these are difficult and complex areas, the main output is often in the form of guidance or position statements that can be applied by researchers, their institutions, funders, and ultimately policymakers. Consequently, these committees are convened at a fairly high level by organisations with an interest in the area of research being considered. They normally include scientific and legal experts alongside those with a specific interest in the topic under consideration (such as patient groups).

But the second, and far more common, type of research ethics committee is those set up by universities, research organisations, or health care providers (such as the NHS) to consider the ethical issues relating to individual, and often very specific, research projects. These Research Ethics Committees — abbreviated as RECs and referred to as Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) in the United States — provide a point-in-time review of a very detailed research protocol before the research is allowed to start. They aim to provide an opinion as to whether the research, if carried out in accordance with the detailed protocol, will meet accepted ethical norms. Exactly what these norms are, and how they can be addressed, is a complex question that may need to take into account guidance created by the first type of ethics committee described above. As such, although RECs still need to have suitably experienced individuals, it is more important that they are also suitably independent from the researcher (and their funder) to ensure they give an ethical opinion that is free from as many conflicts of interest as possible. Scientific or research expertise is important, but so is the voice of non-expert members. Quite often researchers will not be allowed to publish their work if they cannot prove it was reviewed by a REC before it started.

REC review supports research and researchers

REC review is criticised by researchers as being too lengthy, burdensome, or bureaucratic. This is often because it is confused with wider governance processes relating to issues such as data protection, health and safety, financial management, etc. While such issues are important, the fact that they are related to specific, often legally prescribed, arrangements means that they are governance issues that are the responsibility of the research institution (e.g., the university) to review and approve. The distinction between governance approvals , and ethics opinion , is extremely important if the aim is to create systems that provide robust, but proportionate, support to research and researchers. While in some contexts committees are expected to review both governance and ethics issues, there is an increasing recognition that governance is best handled separately by expert research officers, freeing RECs to consider the more complex ethical issues that may arise in any given research project.

Written by Dr Simon Kolstoe, UKRIO Trustee .

research ethics committee jobs

Research organisations and research ethics committees - ESRC

Our principles: research ethics committees.

All parties involved in research have an active role to play in creating and sustaining a culture of rigorous ethical reflection.

We acknowledge that RECs have many competing obligations, with duties to protect participants, researchers and research organisations which mean they are constantly working to achieve many goals; we encourage RECs to engage with researchers in all stages of a project’s research lifecycle.

The principles below should also be considered during any ongoing monitoring of ESRC-funded projects.

Research should aim to maximise benefit for individuals and society and minimise risk and harm

A REC review of a project should consider the ethical conduct of the research whilst also facilitating high quality ethical research; this includes high-impact activities and new forms of research, for example, co-production. The review should be proportionate to the potential benefits and level of risk of the proposed research. RECs should determine the degree of risk and potential harm that may be tolerable in relation to the potential benefits.

The rights and dignity of individuals and groups should be respected

The primary role of the REC review is to ensure that the research will respect the dignity, rights, welfare and, where possible, the autonomy of participants and all parties involved in and potentially affected by the research.

Wherever possible, participation should be voluntary and appropriately informed

The REC should consider the information provided by the researchers regarding consent and voluntary participation, and evaluate how researchers justify and mitigate risks associated with withholding information and the adequacy of any proposed debriefing.

Participants should, wherever possible, take part in research voluntarily and there should not be any coercion or inappropriate influence.

The REC should be confident that participants will be given sufficient information about the research to enable them to make an informed decision about their participation. REC members should also be aware that there may be instances where this is not practical or desirable (for example, for methodological reasons, or covert or crowd research).

Research should be conducted with integrity and transparency

RECs should ensure that they fulfil their role and responsibilities with integrity and record their decisions and feedback in a transparent way.

Lines of responsibility and accountability should be clearly defined

The remit and responsibilities of the RECs should be clear; RECs should be committed to training and development to enable them to fulfil their role. Where the REC feels that it does not have the expertise to review a proposal, it should seek the help of independent bodies or external members. The REC’s performance is subject to review by the research organisation.

The independence of research should be maintained, and where conflicts of interest cannot be avoided they should be made explicit

RECs should be able to conduct ethics review in a wholly independent and impartial manner without any conflicts of interest and with a focus clearly on the ethics of research proposals.

Independence can be achieved by a committee composed of members from a wide range of disciplines and includes external members, within a policy and governance structure that establishes the right of the REC to pass opinions free of influence.

Secondary RECs that comprise members from only one discipline or a small number of closely related disciplines may be regarded as too closely aligned with the interests of researchers.

Further information

Criteria for research ethics committee review

Conflicts of interest, complaints and appeals

Last updated: 15 October 2021

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services .

  • Governments
  • Panjiva Platform
  • S&P Capital IQ Pro
  • XpressFeed™
  • United States Trade Data
  • Brazil Trade Data
  • Central & South America Data
  • India Trade Data
  • Pakistan Trade Data
  • Vietnam Trade Data
  • S&P Global
  • Demo Request a Demo

Supply Chain Intelligence about:

Mercatus Nova Co.

research ethics committee jobs

See Mercatus Nova Co. 's products and customers

Thousands of companies like you use Panjiva to research suppliers and competitors.

research ethics committee jobs

Easy access to trade data

U.s. customs records organized by company, explore trading relationships hidden in supply chain data, supply chain map.

Graphic representation of supply chain of a sample company

Contact information for Mercatus Nova Co.

  • soft drinks
  • confectionary
  • HS 22 - Beverages, spirits and vinegar
  • HS 19 - Preparations of cereals, flour, starch or milk; pastrycooks' products
  • HS 33 - Essential oils and resinoids; perfumery, cosmetic or toilet preparations
  • HS 20 - Preparations of vegetables, fruit, nuts or other parts of plants
  • HS 21 - Miscellaneous edible preparations

Sample Bill of Lading

183 shipment records available, thousands of companies use panjiva to research suppliers and competitors.

  • Xpressfeed™
  • United States
  • Central & South America


  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy
  • Cookie Notice
  • Cookie Settings
  • Do Not Sell My Personal Information


  1. Research Ethics

    research ethics committee jobs

  2. Presenting to a committee

    research ethics committee jobs

  3. Research Ethics Committee

    research ethics committee jobs

  4. Asean Research Organization

    research ethics committee jobs

  5. Human Research Ethics Committee Member (voluntary)

    research ethics committee jobs

  6. HUMAN RESEARCH ETHICS COMMITTEE MEMBERS 2021 at University of Melbourne

    research ethics committee jobs


  1. Ethics Exchange: Paediatrics and Research with Children

  2. Conference on Research Careers 2023

  3. Join the staff of the ESRF!

  4. 82 Ethical Governance and IREC

  5. An employee attacked the Chairman of Sanghar Municipal Committee, Rashid Mughal

  6. Research Integrity and Ethics Series (session 4): Biological and Environmental Safety


  1. Research Ethics Jobs, Employment

    Research Ethics jobs. Sort by: relevance - date. 26,603 jobs. Outpatient Clinical Manager. OnTrack Rogue Valley 3.1. Medford, OR 97501. $75,000 - $88,000 a year. Full-time. Easily apply. Provide direction and guidance to ensure individualized, evidence and research-based service delivery.

  2. 206 Clinical Research Ethics Committee Jobs in United States ...

    Today's top 206 Clinical Research Ethics Committee jobs in United States. Leverage your professional network, and get hired. New Clinical Research Ethics Committee jobs added daily.

  3. #StepForward Become a REC member

    As a REC member you will help facilitate ethical research that aims to provide evidence for improving or changing practice for some of the biggest challenges in health and social care, including cancer, dementia and COVID-19. You will be part of a committee of around 15 people who meet virtually to review applications for research approval.

  4. 12 Research Ethics Committee Coordinator Jobs in United States

    Today's top 12 Research Ethics Committee Coordinator jobs in United States. Leverage your professional network, and get hired. New Research Ethics Committee Coordinator jobs added daily.

  5. Research Ethics Jobs, Employment

    142 Research Ethics jobs available on Apply to Research Associate, Research Assistant, Analyst and more!

  6. Ethics Committees: Structure, Roles, and Issues

    Abstract. An Ethics Committee (EC) is an independent body composed of members with expertise in both scientific and nonscientific arenas which functions to ensure the protection of human rights and the well-being of research subjects based on six basic principles of autonomy, justice, beneficence, nonmaleficence, confidentiality, and honesty.

  7. 1 Research Ethics Committee Member Jobs in United States

    Today's top 1 Research Ethics Committee Member jobs in United States. Leverage your professional network, and get hired. New Research Ethics Committee Member jobs added daily.

  8. Top 38,096 Research Ethics Jobs Jobs, Employment

    38,096 Research Ethics Jobs jobs available on Apply to Research Assistant, Research Technician, Research Associate and more!

  9. Research Ethics Committee Jobs

    research ethics committee jobs. Sort by: relevance - date. 121 jobs. Programme Manager Health and Social Care. Mont Rose College of Management & Sciences. Ilford. £50,000 - £55,000 a year. Full-time +1. Monday to Friday +1. In-person. Easily apply: Responsive employer. Contribute to the research ethics committee meetings.

  10. What is a Research Ethics Committee?

    News. Research ethics committees (RECs) are an important part of a healthy research culture. Their role is to consider the ethical implications of research. Traditionally this has focussed on the need to protect research participants (both human and animal), but in recent years their role in supporting researchers, and promoting research ...

  11. Human Research Ethics Committee Jobs in All Australia

    Find your ideal job at SEEK with 100 Human Research Ethics Committee jobs found in Australia. View all our Human Research Ethics Committee vacancies now with new jobs added daily!

  12. Our principles: research ethics committees

    RECs should be able to conduct ethics review in a wholly independent and impartial manner without any conflicts of interest and with a focus clearly on the ethics of research proposals. Independence can be achieved by a committee composed of members from a wide range of disciplines and includes external members, within a policy and governance ...

  13. Research Ethics Committee Jobs (with Salaries)

    Research Ethics Committee jobs now available. Research Scientist, Graduate Researcher, Clinical Research Associate and more on

  14. Human Research Ethics Jobs (with Salaries)

    Human Research Ethics Advisor. QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. Herston QLD. Provide high level research ethics advice. Develop and maintain research ethics policies and procedures. Provide high level advice on research ethics compliance…. Posted 2 days ago ·.

  15. 17 Research Ethics Committee Jobs

    17 Research Ethics Committee jobs available on, updated hourly. Skip to main content. Home. Company reviews. Find salaries. Sign in. Sign in. Employers / Post Job. 1 new update. Start of main content. Keyword : all jobs   ... Job type. Full-time (11) Permanent (9)

  16. research ethic committee jobs

    Research Associate/Assistant. University of Glasgow. Glasgow. F1 Experience of leading or supporting applications to relevant ethics committees. Survey the research literature and environment, understand the research…. Posted 23 days ago ·. More...

  17. Ethics Committee Jobs in All Australia

    Find your ideal job at SEEK with 100 Ethics Committee jobs found in Australia. View all our Ethics Committee vacancies now with new jobs added daily! ... obtaining new and ongoing human research ethics committee (HREC), governance, and data linkage approvals. 15d ago. Listed one day ago. Integrity Specialist. at Osborne Richardson.

  18. Research Ethics Jobs, Work (with Salaries)

    Research Assistant (2 posts) Cardiff University. Cardiff. To support and prepare research ethics and research governance applications as appropriate. To provide support in research activities for undergraduate courses…. Posted 3 days ago ·.

  19. 100 Human Research Ethics Committee jobs

    Human Ethics Officer and Committee Convener. The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Melbourne VIC. $88,811 - $96,133 a year. Human Ethics Officer and Committee Convener in biomedical research institute. Biomedical sciences degree or relevant qualification, ethical regulations knowledge. Ongoing full-time role with attractive salary and benefits.

  20. Mercatus Nova Co., Elektrostal, Moscow Oblast, Russia

    Thousands of companies use Panjiva to research suppliers and competitors. Mercatus Nova Co. at Elektrostal, Moscow Oblast, Russia. Find their customers, contact information, and details on 164 shipments.

  21. The flag of Elektrostal, Moscow Oblast, Russia which I bought there

    For artists, writers, gamemasters, musicians, programmers, philosophers and scientists alike! The creation of new worlds and new universes has long been a key element of speculative fiction, from the fantasy works of Tolkien and Le Guin, to the science-fiction universes of Delany and Asimov, to the tabletop realm of Gygax and Barker, and beyond.

  22. Flag of Elektrostal, Moscow Oblast, Russia : r/vexillology

    Animals and Pets Anime Art Cars and Motor Vehicles Crafts and DIY Culture, Race, and Ethnicity Ethics and Philosophy Fashion Food and Drink History Hobbies Law Learning and Education Military Movies Music Place Podcasts and Streamers Politics Programming Reading, Writing, and Literature Religion and Spirituality Science Tabletop Games ...

  23. Local Handyman Services in Elektrostal'

    Most local handymen in Elektrostal', Moscow Oblast, Russia are capable of completing any basic home repair, though some may specialize in different skills than others; so if you've got a specific job in mind, make sure the professional handyman service you consider hiring is up to the task.