As part of an initiative to have streamlined and efficient ethics approval for all human research, including multi-centre clinical trials, NHMRC has considered a number of options for improving the operation of Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECs).
As a result of feedback received from a 2015 consultation, NHMRC engaged Bellberry Limited to host and provide secretariat services for two expert independent national scientific committees for research proposals that involve:
- complex genetic research; or
- clinical trials involving medical devices.
These independent committees will provide sponsors and HRECs across Australia with access to expertise in areas of research where before such expertise may have been more difficult to source.
Applications to the National Scientific Committees can be made at www.nationalscientificcommittees.org.au
NHMRC will also continue to explore other options for streamlining ethics review of multi-centre clinical trials, including strengthening the National Approach to Single Ethical Review.
NHMRC and Bellberry are collecting information on the National Scientific Committees pilot to determine the ongoing viability and need for the specialist committees.
NHMRC is also reviewing the outcomes of a 2016 review of the National Certification Scheme for institutional ethical review processes of multi-centre human research (the National Certification Scheme). The report for the review will be published on this page in the near future.
In February 2015 NHMRC undertook a targeted consultation on the feasibility of establishing a credentialing system for a small number of HRECs.
In September 2015 NHMRC released the following report.
NHMRC and Bellberry established two National Scientific Committees to provide expert advice on complex genetic research studies and clinical trials involving medical devices.
More information on the National Scientific Committees, including the process for applying, is available at: www.nationalscientificcommittees.org.au