Overview for IRB and IACUC

Research continues to play an important role in human development, especially in the area of modern medicine, where there are constant discoveries of new drugs and medical equipments for improved health. In the various fields of research, including clinical, biomedical, behavioral, as well as animal/agricultural research, there is a constant participation of human and/or animal subjects in experimental and observational studies. The involvement of human subjects in research dates back to the Second World War however, there were reports of abuses of human subjects.

In pursuit of scholarly work and research for development, the use of human and animal subjects for data collection and analysis remains relevant. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has argued that even sophisticated computers are unable to model interactions between molecules, cells, tissues, organs, organisms, and the environment, making the use of animal for research necessary in many areas.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Ghana is mandated to co-ordinate nation-wide research in the areas of agriculture, industrial, environment and health. The 13 component research institutions of the CSIR have the mandate to research into these four areas towards national development. The research activities and programmes of the institutes involve the development of various technologies and scientific innovations for national development. Since human and animal health is a basic component of national development, the research efforts of the CSIR in these areas are very elaborate and cannot be overemphasized, and may involve the direct or indirect use of human subjects as well as the use and care of animals and animal products. There is the need to protect both the human and animal subjects from possible abuse and other inhuman acts.

It is very important and appropriate to establish an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUC) that will oversee and protect the human subjects and the animals used for research both in the CSIR and other institutions in Ghana. The IRB and IACUC of the CSIR will guide, approve and monitor studies involving human and animal subjects conducted by the CSIR institutes and other research institutions nationwide. Moreover, some funding agencies may require the institutionalization of IRB or/and IACUC before research funds can be approved. Most recently it is becoming increasingly difficult to publish research papers in peer-reviewed journals, without ethical clearance for studies involving human and animal subjects.

Therefore the CSIR, as a cooperate body conducting research involving both human and animal subjects would need to establish IRB and IACUC that will have oversight responsibility over all research conducted on both human and animal subjects.

In view of the above the CSIR- IRB and the IACUC was inaugurated on 31st March, 2012 under the leadership of the former Director-General, Dr. Abdulai Baba Salifu. The CSIR-IRB and the CSIR-IACUC has been mandated to review research involving human and animal subjects. This is a 10 Member board consisting of people with varied backgrounds and expertise.

AUTHORITY OF THE IRB AND IACUC

In countries where proper attention is given to the use of human and animal subjects in research, the power of the IRB and IACUC is derived from the laws established by the countries. However in the absence of such law, the CSIR as a national body responsible for co-coordinating research nationwide toke the initiative of establishing some guidelines and also promulgate the establishment of such laws.

COMPOSITION OF THE IRB/IACUC IS AS FOLLOWS:
• Health Policy
• Animal Breeding
• Health Planning and Sociology
• Medical Parasitology and Molecular Epidemiology
• Medical practitioner
• Bioethicist
• Veterinarian,
• Legal Practitioner
• Female Social Worker
• Community Member

The IRB/IACUC follows a structured protocol that clearly outlines terms of reference, membership, meetings and criteria for protocol reviews. The Officers of IRB comprise the Coordinator, Chair, Vice Chair and the Administrator. This body has a permanent Secretariat at CSIR-Head office which is manned by the IRB administrator. The board meets five times within a year (Every other month) and a number of expedited reviews occur as and when necessary. Protocol submitted by PIs from within CSIR should have been approved by the scientific and Technical Committee (STC) of CSIR.

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