Ontario Cancer Research Ethics Board
Research ethics review is vital to the advancement of ethically sound research. Before individuals can be enrolled in a clinical study, the research must be approved by a research ethics board (REB), an independent committee composed of medical and scientific experts, ethicists, researchers and healthcare professionals, as well as non-scientific members such as legal and privacy experts and members representing the community. The REB’s role is to ensure that the proposed research adequately protects the rights, safety and well-being of the research participants. Prior to 2004, for sponsors and researchers conducting cancer clinical trials at multiple sites, gaining REB approval under the traditional institutional REB model was often a long and tedious process.
Since January 2004, the Ontario Cancer Research Ethics Board (OCREB) has radically changed the research ethics environment for multi-centre cancer trials. OCREB is an expert central oncology REB now serving 26 of 27 hospitals in the province that conduct cancer clinical trials. OCREB’s centralized model means that once a study has been approved by OCREB, additional study sites can receive OCREB approval within days. This minimizes redundancy and saves the time and cost of having the study reviewed by an REB at every participating institution.
For over 10 years, OCREB has been providing rigorous ethics review and oversight of multi-centred cancer trials while streamlining REB review to the benefit of patients, sponsors, investigators and study sites. In annual surveys, stakeholders have noted many advantages of OCREB over the single centre REB model, for example: high quality reviews; efficiency in the submission and review processes; ease of use and transparency of the online system; consistency in consent forms across all sites in the province; rapid approval times; clear communication; consistency in processes; and professional and knowledgeable staff. In 2008 and 2012, OCREB was singled out by two industry sponsors for contributing to record times in achieving their global milestones and putting Ontario and Canada on the map.
Over the years, OCREB has become a respected leader in the field, and is consulted and frequently invited to participate in a variety of provincial and national ethics-related initiatives such as Clinical Trials Ontario, the Network of Networks (N2), the Canadian Association of Research Ethics Boards (CAREB), the Ontario Health Study, the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network and harmonization efforts with the NCIC-Clinical Trials Group (CTG) and the BC Cancer Agency REB. OCREB’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been adopted by numerous other REBs and are serving as the basis for a national set of SOPs being developed by the CAREB and N2.
Throughout its growth and evolution, OCREB's prime concern has always been to protect the rights and safety of study participants; at the same time, it encourages and supports the research that ultimately will help those with cancer.
For more information about OCREB, including membership, meeting dates, SOPs, guidelines, templates and review fees, please visit https://ocrebonline.ca.