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Problems and development strategies for research ethics committees in China’s higher education institutions
  1. Jiyin Zhou
  1. Second Affiliated Hospital, Army Medical University, Chongqing, China
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jiyin Zhou, Second Affiliated Hospital, Army Medical University, Chongqing 400037, China; zhoujiyin{at}


The establishment of research ethics committees (REC) in China’s higher education institutions (HEI) is lagging far behind western developed countries. This has at least partly directly led to anomie in scientific research ethics, as seen in the recent controversies involving a proposed human head transplant and gene-edited babies. At present, the problems for REC in China’s HEI include lack of regulation, informal ethics reviews, lack of supervision and insufficient ethics review capacity. To counteract these problems, suggested measures include mandatory formation of formal ethics committee, administrative support from HEI, ethics approval letter prior to funding application, formulation of regulations and standard operating procedures, selecting and training for members and independent consultants, training for secretaries and staff, ethics training for investigators, and learning from the experience of HEI outside of China, such as the USA and Canada. The establishment of REC in China’s HEI will greatly enhance the overall quality of ethics reviews in China. In addition to better protecting the rights and welfare of human participants, it is also conducive to maintaining the reputation of China’s HEI.

  • ethics committees/consultation
  • research ethics
  • policy guidelines/inst. review boards/review cttes

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  • Contributors JZ conceived the idea for the article and drafted all version.

  • Funding This research was funded by grants from Humanities and Social Sciences Foundation of Army Medical University (2019XRW04, 2017XRW23) and Health Culture Research Center of Shaanxi (JKWH2019-Q07). The foundation body also provides suggestion of the design of the study and writing the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.