Standing Committee on Ethics (SCE) Meeting Highlights: September 10-11, 2015
Performance Measurement Strategy
The SCE agreed upon a new Ethics Performance Measurement Strategy for CIHR, to be brought forward to senior management for final approval. The Performance Measurement Strategy will be shared with external stakeholders upon approval.
Issues raised by the SCE and Science Council
Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH)
CIHR is an Organizational Member of the GA4GH. A comparison of Tri-Council policies with the GA4GH Framework for Responsible Sharing of Genomic and Health-related Data and the GA4GH Privacy and Security Policy was undertaken to determine if there were any substantive differences. The GA4GH policies and those of the Tri-Agencies were found to be largely consistent with one another, and two amendments were recommended to bring the policies into greater alignment.
Gene Editing in Human Embryos
The gene-editing technique, CRISPR/Cas9, allows researchers to quickly and cost-effectively modify DNA, which has led to increased global debate on the ethics of the technique. In the Canadian context, human germline modification is criminally prohibited under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. Given the evolving science and international dialogue on this issue, a discussion was held on the ethical implications of research using gene-editing technologies in human embryos.
The SCE discussed the potential benefits and risks of crowdfunding research. CIHR will explore the implications of this mechanism for raising funds for research projects and report back to the SCE.
CIHR Draft Strategic Action Plan on Training
The SCE provided feedback on an early draft of CIHR’s Strategic Action Plan on Training, including suggestions for ways to support trainees in careers in ethics. Future discussions will focus on how CIHR will work with other stakeholders on an assessment of ethics training and career paths in ethics.
Strategies for Inclusion of Ethics in Research
The results of CIHR’s international scan of funders’ ethics activities were presented to the SCE to facilitate a discussion of how to promote inclusion of ethics in research at CIHR, over and above compliance with ethics policies. The SCE prioritized two interlinked areas for enhancing the inclusion of ethics in research: a) training and career development in ethics; and b) promotion of ethics research.
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