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"A form of practical machinery”: The origins of research ethics committees in the UK

Hedgecoe, Adam ORCID: 2009. "A form of practical machinery”: The origins of research ethics committees in the UK. Medical History 53 (3) , pp. 331-350. 10.1017/S0025727300000211

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Given the centrality of ethics review by independent committees (called Research Ethics Committees, or RECs, in the UK) to modern biomedical research, and the ubiquity of complaints about such review on the part of researchers, it is curious that little attention has been paid to these organizations by medical historians in contrast to the work done on the role of institutions such as the British Medical Association (BMA) and the General Medical Council (GMC) in the development of medical professional ethics, and the general evolution of medical professionals' ethical values. Thus while some work has explored the origins of modern medical ethics teaching in the UK and the parallel development of academic bioethics, there has been very little consideration of how Research Ethics Committees specifically were set up and evolved in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Although some scholars have discussed the development of the British REC system, this work tends to provide little beyond an outline of major events. These might include a report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in 1967, the Department of Health's ‘Red Book’ of 1991 outlining the responsibilities of Local Research Ethics Committees (LRECs) and, more recently, the introduction of multicentre RECs (MRECs) in 1997.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (CESAGen)
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0025-7273
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 02 May 2023 17:58

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