St. Jude, El Salvador create research ethics committee

r International Organizations of Medical Sciences, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, which directed that externally sponsored collaborative research, sponsors and investigators have an ethical obligation to strengthen the ethical review of medical research in the host country.

The El Salvador REC enabled the Hospital Nacional de Nios Benjamin Bloom (Hospital Bloom) in San Salvador to collaborate with St. Jude on two projects: research into the effect of nutrition on the immune systems of Salvadoran children and their susceptibility to dengue hemorrhagic fever (a potentially deadly virus infection); and the training of 100 Salvadoran nurses to care for patients with HIV/AIDS.

As part of the collaboration, a clinical investigator from Hospital Bloom received training at St. Jude, which included learning how to obtain a Federal Wide Assurance from the Office for Human Research Protections of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. An assurance document is required for research by U.S. investigators at international sites; it is awarded following demonstration that proper ethical oversight committees are in place so research will be conducted according to ethical guidelines.

The initial success of the REC approach encouraged other institutions in El Salvador to imitate the Hospital Bloom model and prompted the Salvadoran government to form a national committee to guide ethical research throughout the country.

"The collaboration with St. Jude gave us an opportunity to do an exhaustive review of the issue of research ethics as it impacts our country," said Jos Ernesto Navarro Marin, vice minister of health in the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance in El Salvador. "We concluded that we must ensure the proper use of ethics in research; and such a law is now being formulated by a committee set up for that purpose." Building on the success in El Salvador, the St. Jude team is currently gui

Contact: Summer Freeman
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

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