About the GFBR

The Global Forum on Bioethics in Research (GFBR) exists to provide a global platform for the exchange and sharing of experience and expertise on research ethics among researchers, research policy makers and ethicists, among others. Its core aims are to give voice to low- and middle- income country (LMIC) perspectives in debates about global health research ethics and to promote collaboration.

The purpose, history and future functioning of the GFBR is described in the 2014 articleThe Global Forum for Bioethics in Research – Past, present and future‘.

The essential values of the GFBR include:

  • the promotion of ethically conducted research;
  • respect for the differences between many stakeholders in research – both geographical, cultural, and scientific;
  • the importance of bringing these together for mutual learning;
  • the urgency of capacity building in health research ethics review in many LMICs;
  • the need for partnership between north and south in capacity building in ethics and ethical review in the south.

Who sits on the Steering Committee?

Katherine Littler, World Health Organization, Switzerland; Michael Parker, Oxford University, UK; Anna Chiumento, Edinburgh University, UK; Teck Chuan Voo, SingHealth, Singapore; Phaik Yeong Cheah, Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Thailand; Sharon Kaur, Universiti Malaya, Malaysia; Anant Bhan, Yenepoya University, India;  Jantina De Vries, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Caesar Atuire, University of Ghana, Ghana and Oxford University, UK; Ross Upshur, University of Toronto, Canada; Carla Saenz, Pan American Health Organisation, USA; Paul Ndebele, George Washington University, USA; Ana Palmero, National Ministry of Health, Argentina.

Funder member representatives: Rachel Knowles, UK Medical Research Council (MRC), UK; Barbara Sina, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, USA, Carleigh Krubiner, Wellcome, UK and Mongezi Mdhluli, South African MRC.

What are the aims of GFBR meetings?

  • To maintain and strengthen the protection of human participants in health research.
  • To provide a forum for low- and middle-income country perspectives on ethical issues in research.
  • To explore opportunities to enhance capacity for ethical review of research.
  • To create a context for research involving human participants in which scientists, ethicists, community representatives, policy-makers, industry, and other relevant stakeholders can address ethical issues in ways that allow expeditious long-term joint management of research protocols.

These aims are kept under review and refined at the Steering Committee of Partners meeting held during each meeting.

How are the GFBR meetings planned?

A Planning Committee is convened to support the annual GFBR meeting, including members with expertise and experience in relation to the meeting theme. The Committee reviews the applications to attend and present at the meeting and advises on the development of the meeting agenda.

The 2024 topic is ‘Ethical issues arising in research into health and climate change‘. Members of the 2024 Planning Committee are:

  • Kevin Behrens, Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Katherine Littler, Co-Head, Health Ethics and Governance Unit, World Health Organization
  • Cheryl Macpherson, Professor in the Department of Clinical Skills at St George’s University, Grenada
  • Julian Sheather, Consultant, World Health Organization, UK
  • Amelia Turagabeci, Acting Dean College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Fiji National University, Fiji
  • Fortunate Machingura, Director of the Department for Climate, Environment and Health at CeSHHAR, Zimbabwe
  • Renzo R. Guinto, Associate Professor of Global and Planetary Health, SingHealth Duke-NUS Global Health Institute, Duke-NUS Medical School National University of Singapore, Visiting Professor, St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine, Philippines
  • Anna Chiumento, Lecturer, Global Mental Health & Society, Edinburgh University, UK (GFBR Steering Committee Member)
  • Phaik Yeong Cheah, Professor of Global Health, University of Oxford; Head of Bioethics and Engagement at the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), Thailand (GFBR Steering Committee Member)
  • Yasna Palmeiro Silva, Research Fellow, The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, UK
  • Ross Upshur, Head, Division of Clinical Public Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, which is part of the new collaborative Centre for Climate, Health & Sustainable Care at the University of Toronto, Canada (GFBR Steering Committee Member)

Who supports the GFBR?

Funding is provided by The Wellcome Trust, the National Institutes of Health, the UK Medical Research Council and the South African Medical Research Council.

The Secretariat for the GFBR is provided by the World Health Organization.

Prior to 2009 the Secretariat was hosted by COHRED, supported by a grant from the Science and Society programme of the EU’s 6th Framework Programme on science and technology.

Who are the GFBR’s past and current partners?

Aga Khan University (AKU)
Canadian Institutes of Health Research / Instituts de recherche en sant̩ du Canada (CIHR РIRSC)
Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED)
European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP)
Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO)
Health Research Council of New Zealand
Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM)
Medical Research Council-United Kingdom (MRC UK)
National Institutes of Health-Fogarty International Center (NIH-FIC)
Vilnius University
Wellcome Trust
World Health Organisation (WHO)
Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO)