The Inserm Ethics Committee was created as a fully fledged stakeholder in the dialogue between the scientific and medical research community and wider society.
The aims and working practices of the Inserm Ethics Committee (CEI) are firmly integrated into the practical and everyday life of the Institute: it provides support to Institute staff in identifying and incorporating ethical issues into their projects from the outset, and in considering their methods. Eventually, it also aims to align the ethical work of the life sciences research organizations that make up Aviesan. These aspects make it a unique body that is distinct from France’s National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE).
The main missions of the Inserm Ethics Committee are as follows:
- to lead and develop consideration of the ethical aspects associated with research practices;
- to anticipate, through observational and advisory work, how innovative research will be carried out and how it should be supported ethically, particularly from the point of view of its impact and consequences;
- to raise awareness of the importance of ethics among research staff, in order to ensure a fair balance between their intellectual freedom and their duty to the Institute and to society;
- to produce recommendations concerning the rules relating to research ethics, linked to the responsibility of researchers to the Institute and to society, particularly in their evaluation and appraisal of research and expertise;
- to include Inserm’s different partners in a shared debate on the major public health topics arising from social choices;
- to facilitate the adoption by all of the issues of responsible ethical debate, through local initiatives and major institutional events, as well as through disseminating knowledge; and
- to contribute to the organization of public debates, and if necessary instigate them, in the emerging fields of biomedical innovation.
To achieve these aims as fully as possible, the committee will rely in the medium term on a network of ethics champions. This network’s role will be to contribute to monitoring ethics and raising awareness among the collaborators of the Institute, from their positions in the field.
The committee is working to create interfaces with:
- The Inserm Training Workshops: as ethics form an integral part of all research carried out at Inserm, all training workshops should include a session dedicated to the ethical issues raised by the topic of the workshop. Ethical considerations should also be covered in the welcome day for new personnel.
- The Collective Expert Review Unit: the ethics committee should be systematically consulted for its opinion on the issue covered by the appraisal, and on the methodology used (particularly the composition of the group of experts involved). The committee might furthermore be consulted on the methods for reproducing results.
- The Research Integrity Office (RIO): this office notably aims to lead ongoing debate on scientific integrity and to contribute to the dissemination of good research practices, which provides a complementary approach to that of the ethics committee.
- Other research organizations' ethics committees: the Inserm Ethics Committee will work as closely as possible with the ethics committees of other research organizations.