BC Academic Health Science Network to house Ethics Harmonization Initiative

The BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative (BCEHI), funded and facilitated by MSFHR, has spearheaded a harmonized approach to health research ethics review, allowing researchers to submit a single ethics application regardless of the number of BC jurisdictions involved in a project.

BCEHI is a collaborative effort among BC’s health authorities and four major research universities, who collectively conduct more than 80 percent of the province’s human subject ethics reviews. The initiative has led the development and implementation of harmonized models to make the ethics review process more timely and efficient whilst ensuring consistency and quality.

MSFHR provided core funding to the BCEHI from 2010 to 2016, and additional funding in the fall of 2016 to support the ongoing management and sustainability of the BCEHI as well as the development of a shared technology platform for harmonized ethics review. 

Since 2016, BCEHI partners have been regularly using harmonized models for minimal risk and above minimal risk studies. Now, the BCEHI will now be integrated into the BC Academic Health Science Network as an established provincial resource to facilitate transformational health system research that crosses institutional and geographical boundaries. This integration will provide the sustained staffing and infrastructure required to further develop and expand the provincial approach to research ethics harmonization, including partnering with more organizations.

The provincial harmonization of ethics review promises to encourage more multi-jurisdictional health research and make BC a more competitive and innovative health research environment. A shared technology platform to support an online harmonized ethics review process is currently in development and will launch later this year.