From July 2014, clinician scientists and researchers doing multi-centre research studies in the public healthcare sector that involves human subjects no longer have to undergo multiple ethics reviews with different ethics boards.

SingHealth’s Centralised Institutional Review Board (CIRB) and National Healthcare Group (NHG)’s Domain Specific Review Board (DSRB) – two ethics boards that look after research ethics in public healthcare – signed a memorandum of understanding last month to mutually recognise each other’s ethics reviews.

The mutual recognition allows for research studies approved at a site governed by one board to also be recognised at a site governed by the other. For example, a clinical trial at Singapore General Hospital, which is governed by CIRB, and Tan Tock Seng Hospital, which is governed by DSRB, only needs to apply to one of the two boards for approval.

Such a streamlined process will cut duplication efforts and reduce the time and effort taken to initiate multi-centre studies. More importantly, it facilitates collaborations across institutions that are important to advance patient care through research.

“This mutual recognition of ethics review reduces the time and effort taken to initiate multi-centre studies, better facilitating medical research,” said Dr Aw Swee Eng, Chairman of SingHealth’s CIRB. “More importantly, it promotes research collaborations across institutions, and such collaborations are important to advance medicine through research.”

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Permanent Secretary for Health, Ministry of Health, affirmed the move. She said, “A harmonised ethics review system will increase efficiency for everyone engaged in medical research. This is important to enhance the translation of research outcomes from bench to bedside, to benefit our patients and citizens.”

For enquiries, please email SingHealth CIRB at