THE US National Institutes of Health (NIH), through the Fogarty International Centre and in association with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institutes of General Medicine, has awarded a major educational grant to the UCT Bioethics Centre.
Professor Solly Benatar, Director of the newly funded programme, described its overall goal as the development of sustainable multidisciplinary expertise in international research ethics and bioethics in southern Africa.
Each year, for four years, 12 developing-country scientists, academics and clinicians serving on Research Ethics Committees (RECs) will be funded through the grant to participate in specialised, graduate-level training, focused on ethical, social and legal principles guiding responsible conduct of research on vulnerable subjects in the cross-cultural context of medium- and low-income countries.
Interest and training in research ethics will also be fostered through annual short courses to train and update 75 members of research ethics committees, through the development of a research ethics network.
â€œThis programme, taught by a multidisciplinary faculty with national and international reputations in bioethics, will be unique in Africa and should impact considerably on the ethics of research in southern Africa, where there has been both exponential increase in the volume of clinical research in developing countries and concern about unethical research, especially in relation to HIV/AIDS,â€ Benatar elaborated.
The grant award of almost R2-million for the first year (renewable annually for three additional years) will provide total funding (about R8-million) for the four-year programme. Faculty will include staff from the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Toronto, Yaounde (Cameroon), and Zimbabwe, as well as from the Ethics Institute of South Africa.