Vanderbilt Researchers Receive Award to Establish Research Ethics Education Program in Liberia

In collaboration with the University of Liberia College of Health Sciences (ULCHS), the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH) will develop a one-year research ethics education program for members of four institutional review boards (IRBs) in Monrovia, Liberia.

Drawing from the well-established Collaborative Research Ethics Education Program in Mozambique, this new program will adapt research ethics education and training activities to the Liberian context. The program is designed to promote effective and efficient operation across Liberia`s established IRBs, facilitating coordination and maximizing the reach of training activities that strengthen research ethics reviews throughout the country.

Project principal investigators, Troy Moon, MD, MPH, and Elizabeth Heitman, PhD, will work closely with VIGH Senior Program Manager Ann Green, MPH, and Marie Martin, PhD, MEd to coordinate training activities. Highlighted activities include a Research Ethics Practicum and Workshop Series happening in June 2021. 

dahn troy moon heitman green martin
Bernice Dahn, MD, MPH Troy Moon, MD, MPH Elizabeth Heitman, PhD Ann Green, MPH Marie Martin, PhD, MEd

Featured topics consist of research ethics, research integrity, and the responsible conduct of research, and will be directed toward Monrovia's IRB committee members. These workshops aim to establish a strong common knowledge base and understanding of fundamental concepts of research ethics and best practices in protecting human subjects in research.

Dr. Moon shares, “by the end of these trainings, we aim for each IRB’s committee leadership to have an agreed structure for routine meetings and responsibilities, a standardized protocol template and informed consent documents, and a way to publicize their expertise so others can reach out for support.”

In addition, Dr. Heitman notes, “the participating IRB members will also walk away with a strong common knowledge base of the purpose of research ethics oversight, best practice standards for recruitment and informed consent, and the inclusion and protection of vulnerable populations in research, among other important topics.”

Dr. Dahn (Vice President for Health Sciences, University of Liberia) adds, “A strong and coherently organized IRB system is integral to the thriving research environment we envision for the University of Liberia and for our national scientific community. This program with our partners at Vanderbilt will help us to build that system.”

Research Ethics Practicum in Monrovia at the University of Liberia

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This project is support by the Fogarty International Center under agreement 3R25TW009722-08S1.