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FERCAP & FERCI conference to deliberate on “Strengthening international research collaboration through good ethical practices”

Ramesh Shankar, Mumbai
Friday, November 17, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

With the objectives of describing concepts, initiatives and best practices in research ethics in international collaboration and to describe the role of research ethics committees in promoting international collaboration, the 17th FERCAP International Conference & 5th FERCI National Conference will be held in New Delhi from 19 to 22 November this year with a very topical theme of “Strengthening international research collaboration through good ethical practices”.

Other objectives of the conference are to describe the challenges and best ethical practices in various types of research within and outside of national boundaries; and to describe the roles of various stakeholders (research ethics committee members, institutions, investigators, sponsors, patients and regulatory authorities) in promoting good research ethics practices within the context of globalization.

According to Dr Upendra Kaul, chairman-Organising Committee, India has a rich heritage of traditional systems of medicine which had laid down the guidelines for conduct of physicians dated centuries ago. However in the modern times, the importance of ethical guidelines to govern the human subject research emerged in 1947 in the wake of human rights violation committed by Nazis during their experimentation on prisoners during the second world war. After the Nuremberg holocaust, the Allies established the well-known Nuremberg Code to support the concept that "the voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential". This was followed by the Declaration of Helsinki in 1964 to regulate human clinical research. In 1975 it included the principle that "research protocols should be reviewed by an independent committee prior to initiation". The Declaration of Helsinki is widely regarded as the cornerstone document on human research ethics and undergoes constant updating, the latest being in 2013. In India, researchers have to follow the Ethical guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) from 1980 onwards.

It is in the same spirit and direction that the “Forum for Ethics Review Committees in Asia Pacific” (FERCAP) was conceived in 2000, an initiative undertaken by WHO TDR. “Forum for Ethics Review Committees in India” (FERCI) was formed as an Indian Chapter of FERCAP. The credit goes to the group of Bioethicists and Clinical Experts who met with the objective of fostering an improved understanding and better implementation of ethical review of behavioural and biomedical researches in the region. Annual International Conference, deliberations and conducting training workshops are some of the components of this objective, Dr Kaul said.

The scope of international cooperation and collaboration in biomedical and health research has gained momentum in recent years to such proportions that it could have potentially exploitative human and commercial dimensions. National and international ethics guidelines are being revisited to come out with clear cut views on the do's and dont's of collaborative research so that vulnerable participants in developing countries are protected against exploitation. In view of the growing importance if this aspect, “Strengthening International research collaboration through Good Ethical Practice” has been chosen as the theme of this year's Conference with excellent speakers from around the globe, said  Dr. Vasantha Muthuswamy, president, FERCI.

For the first time, the 17th FERCAP international Conference for the 28 member countries and the 5 national FERCI Conference are jointly being organised this year in New Delhi, on 20-21, November, 2017 with pre-conference workshops at India Habitat Centre for EC members on 19 November and SIDCER (Strategic Initiative for Developing Capacity in Ethics Review) and Recognition ceremony on 22 November for SIDCER recognised ECs during this year at AIIMS, New Delhi.


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