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The National Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics (NEM)

Apple and stetoskop

Photo: Shutterstock

NEM was set up in 1990 by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. Until then ethical questions concerning medical research had been evaluated by the Medical Research Council’s ethics committee. NEM was a continuation of this committee.

The Committee has 12 members with different professional backgrounds. Traditionally, the committee has been chaired by a physician. Pursuant to its charter the Committee, in addition to having medical competence, shall include members with competence in ethics and law and psychology and genetics should also be represented. The Committee also has lay representatives. These have often been persons with experience from politics or the media.

The members of the Committee are appointed by the Ministry of Education and Research upon recommendation from the Research Council of Norway. They are appointed for terms of four years and no member may sit on the Committee for more than two terms. The Committee meets 5-6 times a year.

The Committee has a permanent director of its Secretariat, who attends to the day-to-day business of the Committee. Norway’s three national research ethics committees also have a common secretariat in the centre of Oslo, with shared PR and administrative functions.

NEM has published various reports since its formation: Innsyn i biomedisinsk forskning (Insight into biomedical research) (1997), Etiske sider ved prioriteringer og ressursfordeling i medisinsk forskning (Ethical considerations relating to prioritisation and resource allocation in medical research) (1995) and Registrering, bruk og gjenbruk av genetiske data (Registration, use and re-use of genetic data) (1993). A list of all publications, including publications by the other national research ethics committees and the Medical Research Council’s ethics committee, is available in Norwegian at etikkom.no

NEM is an advisory and appealing body for the seven regional committees for medical research ethics. These committees evaluate all concrete medical research projects, while NEM gives its opinion on issues that are more a matter of principle. Biannual meetings attended by the chairs and secretaries of all the councils deal with issues on which the committees need to collaborate. Furthermore, all members of NEM and the regional committees attend a two-day joint meeting in the autumn, for professional replenishment and discussion.

The work of the medical research ethics committees is based on international conventions such as the Declaration of Helsinki and the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals by International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. NEM has also drawn up guidelines for the inclusion of women in medical research.

Recent work:

2005: guidelines for research on persons with impaired informed consent capacity

2004: report on the ethical aspects of population studies (epidemiological research)
2003: guidelines for ethical evaluation og post-marketing studies

All in Norwegian only.

In additions to issuing opinions, reports and guidelines, the Committee also organises open discussion meetings on various research ethical topics.

Members 2014-2017

  1. Dag Bruusgaard (chair)
  2. Berge Solberg (vice chair)
  3. Kristin Bjordal
  4. Åshild Slettebø
  5. Knut Dalen
  6. Wenche Frogn Sellæg
  7. Randi E. Reinertsen
  8. Arvid Heiberg
  9. Markus Hoel Lie
  10. Randi Jacobsen Bertelsen
  11. Randi Riise
  12. Marit Maanum Simonsen
  13. Thorleiv Valen
  14. Eva Skovlund (co-opted)
  15. Arne Sandvik (co-opted)

Contact:
Director Jacob Hølen +47 23 31 83 03

post@etikkom.no