The Health Research Ethics Board of Alberta – Community Health Committee: a valuable partner for research success
July 14, 2020

The Health Research Ethics Board of Alberta – Community Health Committee (HREBA-CHC) provides tremendous value for community-based research organizations in Alberta. Over the past four years, Medlior’s Calgary-based research team has conducted ten industry-sponsored Real World Evidence studies, with an increasing rate of research requests year-on-year. The timeliness of the HREBA-CHC review has been a key factor in our competitiveness to conduct these research studies and expand our multidisciplinary team. 

The growth of our organization has also allowed us to initiate internships with students from the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University, culminating in student co-authorship and presentation opportunities, including the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) national conference, this year. In addition, our growth has enabled us to sponsor the annual Campus Alberta Student Conference On Health, join the University of Calgary Life Sciences Innovation Hub as a community member, and support the University of Calgary Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) applications as an industry partner. 

The goal of our research studies are to inform and improve patient care, not only in Alberta but worldwide. Our studies involve the collaboration of the HREBA-CHC, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health in order to access and analyze anonymized health system data. Our research questions typically focus on the burden of disease to understand patient characteristics, treatment pathways, clinical outcomes, health system utilization and costs in Alberta. Over the past four years, we have conducted or are currently engaged in RWE studies in the following conditions: multiple sclerosis, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, multiple myeloma, spinal muscular atrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s disease, osteoporosis, chronic kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, and migraine. 

Medlior is privileged to work closely with clinical experts in the province as part of our research study teams to inform the clinical relevance and interpretation of our findings. In addition, we also publish and present all of our research studies at international conferences as well as top-tier journals. One of our recent studies, published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology in 2019, was so well-received that it earned an editorial from the journal as well as a press release from the publisher, Elsevier. 

As Alberta looks to diversify the economy, including prioritizing the expansion of the life sciences industry, the HREBA-CHC is a critical partner for this growth. Commercial life sciences organizations are rapidly growing in the province thanks to the funding available from Alberta Innovates and other key stakeholders. As these start-ups mature, the world-class Alberta health system data will help them to understand the value of their innovations to patients as well as facilitate regulatory and reimbursement approvals. For these commercial companies, similar to our organization, the value of the HREBA-CHC’s familiarity with commercially-funded research studies, methodological expertise in database analyses, and timeliness for review cannot be overstated.  

Finally, we would also like to share our gratitude for the HREBA-CHC Board and Chair who have provided insights and critical feedback on our study protocols over the past few years. Our Research Ethics Board administrator has also been a tremendous support to our research teams with highly responsive feedback to any queries during the course of our studies. The collaborative approach of the CHC has been a key part of our research success and we look forward to continuing to work with them in 2020 and beyond.

Read more insights from Medlior here