Setting Ethical Guardrails for research and development
2023-10-16 | Science and Technology Daily

In its latest efforts to set ethical guardrails for science and technology, China has unveiled a range of trial measures for the ethical reviews of R&D activities.

The document, jointly released by 10 government bodies, including the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the Ministry of Education, and the National Health Commission, will take effect on December 1, 2023.

It puts forward a series of comprehensive and generic measures for the ethical reviews of R&D activities in various sectors, as well as unified requirements for the basic procedures, standards and conditions of ethical reviews, said an official from MOST.

With a total of 56 measures, the document is expected to lay an institutional basis for relevant authorities and innovation entities to conduct such reviews.

Researchers conduct biospecimen medical research in a lab. (PHOTO: VCG)

R&D activities involving human participants, including tests, surveys and observations using human beings as research subjects, as well as those activities using human biological samples and personal information data, are subject to ethical reviews in accordance with these measures.

R&D activities involving experimental animals shall also carry out such ethical reviews.

For those activities that are not directly involved with human participants or experimental animals, but may pose ethical risks or challenges in life and health, ecological environment, public order, and other fields, the ethical reviews are also required.

Universities, R&D institutes, healthcare and medical institutions, and enterprises are responsibility entities for the ethical review of their own R&D activities.

For those entities engaged in life sciences, medical science, artificial intelligence, and other R&D activities that involve ethically sensitive areas, an ethical review committee shall be established.

For international cooperative R&D activities that are subject to ethical reviews, they should pass the required ethical reviews of all parties.

A list will be established for emerging R&D activities that may pose higher ethical risks or challenges, and expert review procedures shall be initiated in such reviews.

This list will be dynamically adjusted as per needs and then released by MOST.

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