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Submitting to a research ethics board (REB)

What is a research ethics board (REB)?

A body that is not affiliated with the sponsor, and the principal mandate of which is to approve the initiation of, and conduct periodic reviews of biomedical research involving human participants in order to ensure the protection of their rights, safety and well-being (ACRC Glossary)  

 

What is health research?

Health research involves human subjects, their health information, and/or research involving their biological samples, such as blood or tissue.

  • Because health research exposes people to risk, at least in part, for the benefit of others, it must show that it lives up to high ethical standards set out in the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS2) before it even gets off the ground.
  • It's the job of research ethics boards to also ensure that the research projects being considered comply with relevant regulations, guidelines, and ethical principles.
  • Alberta's research ethics boards have the responsibility of adhering to a piece of legislation called the Health Information Act of Alberta.

 

What are the ethical requirements of my study? What types of studies require a research ethics board review and approval?

  • The type of research project proposed will determine the ethical requirements of the study. Not all studies involving humans require ethical review, although many clinical health research studies do require ethical review. 

 

Which Research Ethics Board should I apply to?

There are three such boards in the province that are able to review studies that use health information. Each of these boards has specific requirements for submission of an application for ethics approval and each provide guidance and templates to aid in your submission process.

1.       Studies (non-cancer) initiated and carried out by principal investigators affiliated with the University of Alberta AND investigators who are AHS employees but not affiliated with the University of Calgary or the University of Alberta [i.e. Investigator-initiated clinical trial at the UofA or a student project in a hospital pharmacy].

    • Apply to the Health Research Ethics Board (HREB) housed at the University of Alberta

2.       Studies (non-cancer) initiated and carried out by principal investigators with the University of Calgary [i.e. Investigator-initiated clinical trial at the UofC]

    • Apply to the Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board (CHREB) housed at the University of Calgary

3.       Studies focused on the study of cancer or the treatment of cancer patients conducted by Principal Investigators from the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health and/or the community [i.e. Industry-sponsored clinical trial in an AHS Cancer Centre].

    • Apply to the Health Research Ethics Board of Alberta (HREBA) Cancer Committee housed at Alberta Innovates

4.       Clinical trials, excluding cancer-related studies, conducted by physicians and other qualified health professionals who are not conducting the research as part of their employment with the University of Alberta or the University of Calgary or Covenant Health or Alberta Health Services (Zones 4 and 5) [i.e. private clinic industry-sponsored trial].

    • Apply to the  Health Research Ethics Board of Alberta (HREBA) Clinical Trials Committee housed at Alberta Innovates

5.       Studies, neither clinical trials nor cancer-related, conducted by Principal Investigators who are not conducting the research as part of their employment with the University of Alberta or the University of Calgary or Covenant Health or Alberta Health Services (Zones 4 and 5) [i.e. private clinic, investigator-initiated study].

    • Apply to the Health Research Ethics Board of Alberta (HREBA) Community Health Committee housed at Alberta Innovates