India has a rich heritage of traditional systems of medicine which had laid down the guidelines for conduct of physicians dated centuries ago. However in the modern times, the importance of ethical guidelines to govern the human subject research emerged in 1947 in the wake of human rights violation committed by Nazis during their experimentation on prisoners during the Second World War. After the Nuremberg holocaust, the Allies established the well-known Nuremberg Code to support the concept that "the voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential". This was followed by the Declaration of Helsinki in 1964 to regulate human clinical research. In 1975 it included the principle that "research protocols should be reviewed by an independent committee prior to initiation". The Declaration of Helsinki is widely regarded as the cornerstone document on human research ethics and undergoes constant updating, the latest being in 2013. In India, researchers have to follow the Ethical guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research from 1980 onwards..
It is in the same spirit and direction that the "Forum for Ethics Review Committees in Asia-Pacific" (FERCAP) was conceived in 2000, an initiative undertaken by WHO TDR. "Forum for Ethics Review Committees in India" (FERCI) was formed as an Indian Chapter of FERCAP. The credit goes to the group of Bioethicists and Clinical Experts who met with the objective of fostering an improved understanding and better implementation of ethical review of behavioural and biomedical researches in the region. Annual International Conference, deliberations and conducting training workshops are some of the components of this objective.
We are very proud to host this year the 17th FERCAP International Conference & 5th FERCI National Conference in the historic City of Delhi, the capital of INDIA from 19th to 21st November with a very topical theme "Strengthening International research collaboration through Good Ethical Practice".
On behalf of the Organizing committee I wish all the participants a very educative and memorable time.
Prof.(Dr.) Upendra Kaul
Awarded Padmashiri and Dr B C Roy Award
Chairman Batra Heart Centre & Dean Academics and Research Batra Hospital, New Delhi
Ethics Review Committees (ERC)/Institutional ethics committees (IEC) or Institutional Review Boards (IRB) have been entrusted to ensure ethical compliance by researchers so that the rights, safety and dignity of the research participants are safeguarded with the rationale that an objective review of research activities involving human participant by a group of diverse individuals is likely to protect the human participants and promote ethically sound research.
Realising the importance and the dire need in most countries to have competent independant ethics review committees which will function as an important guiding force in the research enterprise, the Forum for Ethics Review Committees in Asia Pacific (FERCAP) was set up in January, 2000 for all the countries in the South east Asia and Western Pacific region. Since then, for the purpose of dissemination of the responsibilities of the ERCs and the current development in the field of biomedical and socio-behavioural research, annual conferences are being conducted by FERCAP in member countries. SIDCER (Strategic Initiative for Developing Capacity in Ethics Review) is the virtual group linking FERCAP and other such Fora in different regions of the world and conducts recognition Surveys in different countries to ensure quality ethics review by the ethics committees (ECs). Till 2016, 214 ECs have undergone Surveys and resurveys in the region. There are national chapters in many countries under this Forum. The Indian Chapter of FERCAP, Forum for Ethics Review Committees in India (FERCI) has been functioning for a decade now. For the benefit of the Indian researchers and EC members, FERCI conducted biennial conferences in different cities. Since last year it is being held annually. For the first time, the 17th FERCAP international Conference for the 28 member countries and the 5th national FERCI Conference are jointly being organised this year in New Delhi, India on 20-21, November, 2017 with preconference workshops at India Habitat Centre for EC members on 19th November and SIDCER Recognition ceremony on 22nd November for SIDCER recognised ECs during this year at AIIMS.
The scope of international cooperation and collaboration in biomedical and health research has gained momentum in recent years to such proportions that it could have potentially exploitative human and commercial dimensions. National and international ethics guidelines are being revisited to come out with clear cut views on the do's and dont's of collaborative research so that vulnerable participants in developing countries are protected against exploitation. In view of the growing importance if this aspect, "Strengthening International research collaboration through Good Ethical Practice" has been chosen as the theme of this year's Conference with excellent speakers from around the globe. I am sure all the participants will be greatly benefitted by the deliberations during the conference and enjoy the Indian hospitality.
Wishing the Conference great participation from all countries and fruitful interaction in the preconference and conference sessions.
( DR. VASANTHA MUTHUSWAMY)