RHInnO Ethics: an online review platform for research ethics committees

26 April 2012

Today, the MARC project – Mapping of research ethics review and trial regulatory capacity in sub-Saharan Africa – launched an online review platform for Research Ethics Committees: the Research for Health and Innovation Organiser (RHInnO) platform. The platform was demonstrated at the Forum 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa. The purpose of the platform is to facilitate an efficient ethical review clearance of clinical research involving human subjects.

International standards require that protocols of clinical research are reviewed by an independent research ethic committee (REC). However, many RECs in Africa lack the tools to coordinate efficiently the submission and review of protocols and timely communication to researchers. They face an increasing amount of paperwork. Resources and knowledge exchange are also limited.

RHInnO Ethics was created by the Web4Development team at the COHRED group. It aims to speed up the review process by improving efficiency. The system provides research ethics committees with a secure, web-based solution for tracking research applications throughout the entire life-cycle of the research project. This will improve control of research activities by the RECs and will contribute to safer management of submitted materials and minimize delays in communication within RECs and with researchers. Moreover, RHInnO will enable the committees to share standardised research regulation documents e.g. standard operating procedures and research review guidelines.

RHInnO takes away the complex process of creating paper-based data collection using a simple web application. The system offers a secure platform that allows users to enter and manage information about research projects and proposals, including principal investigator, reviewers, funding source, attachments, descriptions, comments and supporting documents. All available data is encrypted. Different interfaces are available, providing users access to specific information. Users can access a list of recent actions and alerts (e.g. the system will alert when a project is not complete, or when a new project has been submitted or approved). In addition, the system sends reminders to different user profiles (i.e. administrators, reviewers, researchers) to respond to pending requests promptly.

About MARC
The MARC project is an initiative funded by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), and implemented through collaboration between the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) in Geneva, Switzerland and the South African Research Ethics Training Initiative (SARETI) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

The MARC project (Mapping of ethics review and trial regulatory capacity in sub-Saharan Africa) aims to develop an interactive and continuously updated map of Africa’s health research ethics committees (RECs) and to provide a web-based platform to increase contact and communication between these committees. A secondary objective is to map medicines regulatory authorities (MRAs) and facilitate a better contact between these authorities and research ethics review committees.

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