Research involving human subjects is indispensable for the progress of medical science. Meanwhile, the health, rights and dignity of those who participate in research must be protected. This sounds reasonable today, but welfare of human subjects had been neglected through the history. Reflecting on the past, the Declaration of Helsinki was developed as ethical principles for medical research and has been accepted worldwide.
Excerpts from the Declaration of Helsinki
6. In medical research involving human subjects, the well-being of the individual research subject must take precedence over all other interests.
11. It is the duty of physicians who participate in medical research to protect the life, health, dignity, integrity, right to self-determination, privacy, and confidentiality of personal information of research subjects.
Led by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) and Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology(MEXT), ethical guidelines for medical research have been set in Japan since 1990s. The intricacies of medical research, however, have made the guidelines increasingly complicated and difficult to grasp in detail.
Thus, The Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo (IMSUT) established the Office of Research Ethics in November 2008. We protect the health, rights and dignity of human participants in research carried out at IMSUT and we aid researchers to conduct their studies ethically and smoothly. Our mission is realized mainly through the following services:
- Preparing and carrying out training programs in research ethics
- Requesting assignment of an ethics instructor from each laboratory
- Providing ethics guidance and consultation to researchers in advance
- Handling practical affairs of Ethics Committees to ensure their efficient running
- Ethically supervising research activities and publication of results
- Managing sample collection and storage systems, and advising on system reform
- Providing other services relating to research ethics management