Durham College expands applied research offering with establishment of two ethics boards

March 22, 2011

As part of its growing research agenda and commitment to achieving the highest possible ethical standards, Durham College’s Office of Research Services and Innovation recently announced the formation of a Research Ethics Board (REB) and a Research Ethics Appeal Board (REAB).

Established to evaluate, oversee the ethical screening and conduct a full review of research projects, the REB is designed to ensure all research conducted by the college is consistent with its policy and procedure on ethical conduct for research involving humans.

Comprised of experts in the fields of scientific research, ethics and law in addition to a member of the community with no affiliation to Durham College, the REB will review all research conducted on campus that requires the use of human participants, then approve, reject or ask for modification of research processes to ensure participants are treated respectfully and ethically.

The REB is also responsible for ensuring all personal information is kept confidential, unless proper consent to disclose is given, and that the benefits of each research project outweigh any potential harm.

REB members include Mark Frayne and Ralph Hofmann, professors with the School of Justice & Emergency Services; Brenda Garant and Joyce Myers, professors with the schools of Health & Community Services and Science & Engineering Technology; Dave Roger, health and safety officer, Deborah Tsagris, learning strategist; and Paul McGary, director of Mental Health and Pinewood Services at Lakeridge Health.

“It is extremely important that all research on campus is completed with the highest possible ethical standards, especially when human participants are involved,” said Debbie McKee Demczyk, director, Office of Research Services and Innovation. “The creation of the Research Ethics Board and the Research Ethics Appeal Board will enable Durham College to create a research culture of responsibility, transparency and respect.”

The role of the new REAB is to receive and respond to requests for appeals in cases where principal investigators and the REB are unable to reach an agreement about a specific research case through discussion and reconsideration.

The REAB is comprised of Stephanie Ball and Greg Murphy, deans of the schools of Justice & Emergency Services and Media, Art & Design; Sandra Goldsworthy and Randy Uyenaka, professors with the School of Health & Community Services; Mike Roy, a professor with School of Justice & Emergency Services; and Ann Stapleford-McGuire, chair of the Growing Communities Healthcare Alliance and a medical member of the Review Tribunal for Canada Pension Plan/Old Age Security with the Government of Canada.

Although the boards operate independently, both report directly to Don Lovisa, president of Durham College, and together will help the college ensure its researchers are free of bias and able to conduct their studies with accuracy, integrity, objectivity and sincerity.

The Office of Research Services and Innovation has worked on a wide range of applied research projects since opening its doors in 2009 including the creation of a pool debris skimmer/extraction device prototype developed through a research agreement with A.B.D. Solar Power Pool Tools of Oshawa, Ont. and an agreement with Innovative Solutions Incorporated, also of Oshawa, to bring energy-saving technology to the retail market.

The college has also worked with Yowza Digital Inc. of Toronto, Ont. and GreenWorks Solar Power of Brighton, Ont. and recently announced a new research agreement with Beyond Covers Inc. of Ajax, Ont., a company that reuses and recycles various types of light film plastic to create a raw material called Ply-me, which is to produce functional materials and products for consumer and industrial use. Under the umbrella of the Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation (CONII), the agreement will see the organizations work together to conduct destructive and non-destructive testing on Ply-me’s colouring, durability, life cycle and ultraviolet protection.

Additional applied research and testing priorities for college include the fields of alternative and renewable energy, construction, digital media, environmental technology, health and life sciences and manufacturing and materials.