Themes

European Network of Research Ethics Committees (EUREC)

What is this about?

EUREC (1) fosters cooperation between national associations of research ethics committees (RECs) throughout Europe. The network supports good ethical governance of research by providing a sustainable infrastructure for knowledge exchange and assisting capacity building initiatives. Moreover, EUREC links RECs with other relevant bodies involved in the ethical governance of research, like the European Commission’s ethical review system or the European Medical Association (EMA).

Why is this important?

RECs are responsible for the ethical review of research involving human participants, especially in the biomedical sciences. Today RECs face significant challenges due to the increase of multicenter studies and daring novel research.

Multicenter studies pose a challenge because RECs have evolved in accordance with local cultures and national laws. Reviewing research projects involving numerous institutions located in different countries requires cooperation between RECs because regulations and procedures need to be harmonized.

New technologies and research methodologies raise ethical questions, not only in the biomedical sciences, but also in the social sciences and the humanities. Often existing review procedures and guidelines cannot adequately address these challenges. Hence, there is a demand for adapting procedures and guidelines.

Striving to continuously improve the protection of human subjects and to ensure high quality ethical review of research projects, EUREC helps RECs addressing these challenges by:

  • providing a sustainable infrastructure for exchange and cooperation,
  • gathering and disseminating information on ethical review practices in Europe,
  • collecting and evaluating training materials for REC members,
  • conducting capacity building,
  • identifying emerging ethical issues,
  • promoting research in bioethics and medical ethics,
  • assisting in the harmonization of multidisciplinary ethical reviews.

For whom is this important?

Ethics committee members, Research institutions, Policy makers, Universities

What are the best practices?

To support cooperation between national RECs associations and address novel research ethical challenges, EUREC organizes regular conferences of members, sets up working parties, monitors legal developments, collects and evaluates training materials, and participates in various research projects. Among other things, EUREC currently supports initiatives connecting the hitherto rather disparate communities of research ethics and research integrity specialists (like the Embassy, ENERI, and Path2Integrity) and projects addressing novel ethical challenges emanating from technological transformations (like PANELFIT, SHERPA, and SIENNA).

Besides further information about EUREC and the projects EUREC participates in, the network’s website (www.eurecnet.org) provides information on and links to:

  • RECs in Europe
  • national legislation governing RECs
  • EU legislation governing RECs
  • literature on RECs
  • training materials

Other information

EUREC is a pan-European network registered in Germany

References

  1. European Network of Research Ethics Committes (EUREC). Available at: www.eurecnet.org Accessed June 2019.