Launch of the National Scientific Committees: A new Clinical Trials resource

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Two new National Scientific Committees will provide expert advice to researchers and Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs) on complex genetic studies and clinical trials involving medical devices.

Established by the NHMRC as a pilot project, the Committees will safeguard participant wellbeing and improve the start-up times for medical research. During the pilot project, all HRECs will have access to expertise in areas of research where such capability may have been traditionally difficult to source.

The Committees will provide  scientific opinion on research proposals as requested by HRECs or investigators (researchers or trial sponsors).

While NHMRC supervised the development of the Committees and the appointment of members—the not-for-profit, private ethics review organisation Bellberry Limited will undertake the day-to-day management. Bellberry Limited already hosts a number of HRECs and won selection after a competitive tender process in 2016.

Importantly, these Committees are a national resource that are and should be seen as independent of any particular institution.

Funded through an Australian Government 2014–15 Budget measure, the Committees will continue efforts by the Government to streamline ethics review of human research, including clinical trials.

Further information on the Committees—including information on how to submit a research proposal for review—is available at www.nationalscientificcommittees.org.au