The establishment of a network required several steps and included:
- Distribution of a self-administered survey tool to Egyptian RECs to collect information on the following domains: general characteristics of the REC, membership composition, ethics training, workload, process of ethics review, perceived challenges to effective functioning, and financial and material resources. We used basic descriptive statistics to evaluate the quantitative data.
- Implementation of two internet tools: a web conferencing system and an internet Learner Management System to foster a communication and sharing of educational resources, respectively.
- Face to face meeting of the ENREC members.
At the present time, the following has been performed:
- We distributed surveys to 18 RECs and 12 completed and returned the survey. Data have been entered and data analysis done and the results of this survey were published. A conference for these RECs was held in October, 2008 and we had obtained a seminar grant from the Wellcome Trust for this conference.
- We have gained experience with the use of WebEx (www.webex.com), an online web conferencing center, and Blackboard, an online Learner Management System (LMS). Both of these tools are housed on an established website with the domain name of www.enrec.com (Egyptian Network of Research Ethics Committees). To test and assess these internet tools, we used the Webex Online Conference Center in February 2008 to broadcast a live session of an educational workshop for the REC members at Theodor Bilharz Research Institute to individuals in different countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan).
- To date, we have conducted 12 face to face meetings between 2008 and 2014.
Achievements & outcomes of the meetings:
Joining of new members.
Conduction of training for the members.
Dissemination of the assessment tool forms.
Discussion of the debatable research topics encountered by the members (e.g. stem cells, genetics…etc).
Discussion about Multicenter studies.
Initiative for standardization of the documents used by the members( the REC checklist has been done in the 8th meeting).
Discussion of the points that can be included in the National guidelines.
ENREC encompasses several tracks:
- Education in the form of workshops and online training,
- Guidance by preparing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines,
- Tools by supplying them with examples of : Investigator Application form, REC checklist for initial and continuous review , Elements of informed as well as an example of informed consent in Arabic, Financial conflict of interest disclosure statement, Statement of confidentiality,
- Articles covering ethics of clinical research, randomization and placebo controls, ethics of subject recruitment, ethics of informed consent, ethics of decisional impaired participants, research with children, function and performance of ethical review as well as some international research,
- Bioethics Links to various online resources and websites related to research ethics.
To allow RECs through Egypt to communicate, exchange their experience, and cooperate together in solving the problems they encounter and to standardize and help in establishing ethical culture and principles throughout their organizations. Also, to enhance the review of research and to help investigators and their research staffs submit their proposals.