Harmonisation of Multi-centre Ethical Review and the National Approach

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) established the Harmonisation of Multi-centre Ethical Review (HoMER) initiative to facilitate the recognition of single scientific and ethical review for multi-centre research within and across all Australian jurisdictions.

In Australian research institutions, HRECs review research proposals involving human participants and assess their conformity with the requirements of the National statement on ethical conduct in human research and other requirements before approving them.

There are over 200 Australian HRECs in public and private organisations, hospitals and universities, many of which review clinical trial research. For researchers planning multisite and/or multicentre research projects, having to submit a number of applications for ethical review to multiple HRECs can result in considerable delays and additional costs.

The first phase of the HoMER initiative developed tools to support a National Approach to single ethical review, including the National Certification Scheme, standardised participant information and consent forms, HREC template letters, and information on the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders in the process, including guidance on research governance and monitoring of human research.

The NHMRC has now developed and published on the Human Research Ethics Portal (HREP) a variety of tools and guidance material to support the National Approach. These tools and guidance material apply to all human research and can be adopted and implemented by institutions in the publicly funded health sector, universities and private hospitals and research institutions.

Researchers seeking to conduct a multicentre human research project should first approach the relevant institution(s) to ascertain their willingness to accept the ethical review outcome of a HREC associated with a certified institution.