The Ethics Review Committee (ERC) of the University of Colombo Faculty of Medicine (UCFM) to help the researchers in promoting and adhering to ethical principles in research, including obtaining ethics clearance for the research projects.
The UCFM ERC was established in 1981 to provide ethics review for biomedical research projects involving humans carried out in the UCFM. It was Sri Lanka’s first institutional ethics review committee. It has since entered into memoranda of understanding with several organizations – state and non-state, local and overseas – and extended its services to them. These organizations include Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). It has also expanded its scope to cover research involving animals, herbals and social research. The UCFM ERC also regularly conducts open programs that help review issues, train committee members and researchers, and develop appropriate societal or institutional responses.
The UCFM ERC is a member of the Forum of Ethics Review Committees of Sri Lanka (FERCSL). It was the first ethics committee in Sri Lanka to receive the recognition of the Strategic Initiative for the Development of Capacity in Ethics Review (SIDCER), which was originally set up by the World Health Organization; it received this recognition in 2009, renewed in 2012. It is so far the only Sri Lankan ethics committee to have NIH recognition. It is also recognized for providing ethics clearance for clinical trials, by the Subcommittee on Clinical Trials (SCOCT), which is set up by the Cosmetics, Devices and Drugs Regulatory Authority of the Ministry of Health of Sri Lanka to regulate clinical trials in Sri Lanka.
The Committee has been formulated in accordance with the by-laws of the University of Colombo and functions under the supervision of the Dean of its Faculty of Medicine, who takes decisions in accordance with the advice and recommendation of the Faculty Board. Its members are appointed by the Dean upon the recommendation of the Faculty Board. The Committee has developed standard operating procedures (SOPs) in accordance with the guidelines of the FERCSL.