The goal of the CCaTS Research Ethics Resource is to "move ethics beyond compliance." This resource facilitates the ethical and social conduct of research by providing advice to researchers and collaborating with them to identify workable solutions to ethical and social implications related to their research.
The Research Ethics Resource does this in part by providing real-time advice and guidance to researchers on ethical, societal or policy questions that might arise during the course of their work. Areas of expertise include bioethics, science policy, biology, medicine, public health, public policy, religious studies and medical anthropology.
Research Ethics Resource staff consult with new and established investigators at the protocol development stage and throughout the research process. Working together with researchers, its consultants provide recommendations based on existing policies, ethical principles and scholarly literature.
This consultation service is available free-of-charge to basic, clinical and translational researchers in any position — graduate student or medical student, postdoctoral or clinical fellow, faculty and research staff (e.g., study coordinator, nursing staff, research assistant, technician).
A research ethics consultation can be requested at any stage of the research process; however, investigators who think there may be ethical, social or policy implications related to their research are encouraged to make contact early in the process. Ongoing communication with consultants allows investigators to incorporate best practices into their research designs "up front" and avoid delays. More information can be found in the Research Ethics Consultation Service brochure (PDF).
Research Ethics Resource staff members work collaboratively with the Research Subject Advocate, Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Research Compliance Unit to enhance the overall quality of the regulatory process. Investigators are invited to work closely with staff on issues related to the informed consent process and the development of biorepository and data sharing approaches, as well as on protocols dealing with socially sensitive issues — for example, human embryonic stem cells or race and genetics.
Examples: Questions benefiting from a consultation
- "I am the principal investigator for a clinical trial and would like to recruit subjects for this study from my practice. What precautions need to be taken regarding perceived or real conflict of interest?"
- "What are the potential ethical implications of putting a human neuronal stem cell into the brain of a developing mouse embryo?"
- "I have completed a study looking at genetic variations across several different populations, including some from Africa and Asia. I have identified a few variants, including variants for several behavioral traits. How should I report these findings?"