Standing Committee on Ethics (SCE) Meeting Highlights: September 22-23, 2014

The Role of the SCE

  • The Committee discussed its draft Terms of Reference, including membership composition, voting rights and responsibilities.
  • Suggested revisions will be reviewed by the Governing Council Nominating and Governance Committee, and the Terms of Reference will be finalized at the November 2014 meeting of Governing Council.

Leadership in Ethics

  • The Committee discussed CIHR’s vision for ethics going forward. The integrated leadership model for ethics includes designating the Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President, Research and Knowledge Translation as “Ethics Champion”.
  • The Committee proposed that the title of “Vice President, Research and Knowledge Translation” be changed to “Vice President-Research, Knowledge Translation and Ethics” to acknowledge responsibility for ethics at the senior management level in a more formal way than the term “Ethics Champion”, and signal to the external community CIHR’s commitment to ethics.

Integration, Evaluation and Communication of Ethics at CIHR

  • CIHR’s draft Action Plan for Ethics at CIHR was presented to the Committee. Members were highly supportive of the plan to integrate ethics throughout CIHR’s business, and emphasized the importance of tracking activities and investments in ethics, and evaluating impacts.
  • Committee members agreed to create working groups to: foster the consideration of ethics in CIHR-funded research; design an ethics performance measurement strategy; and develop a communication strategy.

Mechanism for selection, prioritization and action on issues to be addressed by the committee

  • A number of ethical issues were brought to the Committee’s attention from Science Council and Committee members themselves.
  • A process was proposed and approved by the Committee to select, prioritize and take action on these issues. The Committee will address ethical issues based on the criteria of: 1) relevance to CIHR; 2) appropriateness of SCE’s role; 3) opportunity for leadership; 4) opportunity for collaboration; 5) timeliness; and 6) feasibility.
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