For the past number of years, a Project Support Team at Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (AIHS) has been actively managing the implementation of activities related to Health Research Ethics Harmonization (HREH). Much has been done, but several concurrent activities, in Governance, Reciprocity, IRISS and REMO are still underway.

We’ll provide regular updates on the progress that continues to be made in each of these areas:


The HREH Steering Committee held its first meeting on Monday, December 1, 2014.

Voting members of the HREH Steering Committee are:

  • Pamela Valentine, Chief Partnership Officer, Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions (Chair)
  • Kathryn Todd, Vice President, Research, Innovation and Analytics, Alberta Health Services
  • Trevor Theman, Registrar, College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta
  • Sheli Murphy, Senior Operating Officer, Rural Services, Covenant Health
  • Walter Dixon, Associate Vice-President (Research), University of Alberta (U of A)
  • Andre Buret, Associate Vice-President (Research), University of Calgary (U of C)

Non-voting members are:

  • a representative from Alberta Health
  • a representative from Alberta Economic Development and Trade


Alberta’s three Health Information Act-designated REBs, including the Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board (CHREB, U of C), the Health Research Ethics Board (HREB, U of A) and the Health Research Ethics Board of Alberta (HREBA, AIHS), are working to align and harmonize their processes with the principle of one application-one review-one approval. This includes:

  • Where to Apply: An easy to use guidance document has been developed to assist PIs in determining where to submit their applications for ethics review of  proposed studies;
  • Developing processes to ensure institutional or local requirements are fulfilled.
  • Preparations are well underway for HREBA’s Cancer Committee to receive all-cancer related trials, including studies that recruit pediatric participants.

Principal Investigators (PIs) should remember that approval from an HIA-designated REB does not grant access to health records for research purposes. Also, other institutional and organizational requirements may be in place, which PIs must comply with or fulfill prior to the commencement of a study, including approvals for the allocation of resources. Inquiries regarding such requirements should be directed to the appropriate institutional or organizational body.

Efforts will be ongoing to identify potential improvements that can accelerate the full implementation of the Reciprocity Agreement across the three HIA-designated REBs. Feedback from the research community can be submitted to


Changes and improvements to IRISS and REMO related to health research ethics processes have been proposed.  The focus is on ensuring consistency between the two online systems for researchers across the province.

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