NH Research Review Committee

In March 2020, Northern Health began pausing research and evaluation activities, with some case-by-case exemptions.

Northern Health is implementing a multi-phase approach, in alignment with provincial requirements and public health guidance, to resume clinical services and access to facilities with a focus on safety, standards and maintaining capacity to respond to potential future waves of COVID-19.

The resumption and initiation of research is aligned with Northern Health’s COVID-19 recovery plans and includes two concurrent processes that together, when approved, comprise Institutional Approval to proceed.

  1. Research Ethics Review: To assess current ethical acceptability
  2. Operational Review: To assess current capacity to support

Please see our full memo on Research During COVID-19 (PDF), our updated Operational Approval Form (PDF), and our NH Research Process Map (PDF).

Approval process for research studies at Northern Health requires the following to proceed:

  1. Research Ethics Approval given by Northern Health Review Committee
  2. Northern Health Operational Approval
  3. An approved NH Information Sharing Agreement (ISA), when the study requests disclosure of personal information (identifying or de-identified)
  4. An approved NH Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), when the study requests to implement new technology or change existing technology

    The principal investigator (PI) is required to complete a NH ISA or NH PIA and submit it to NH Privacy. NH Research will facilitate PI engagement with appropriate NH stakeholders.

Once all necessary approvals are obtained, the Northern Health Institutional Authorization Letter is issued. Only then the study can commence.

Research ethics and operational approvals can be pursued simultaneously. Once the conditions for all necessary approvals are met, the Research Review Committee will issue the Northern Health Authorization Letter that will be emailed to the principal investigator and the Northern Health managers who provided operational approval for the research.

Northern Health logo use: Do not include the Northern Health logo on study materials unless the Principal Investigator’s primary appointment is with Northern Health. Northern Health staff or clinical residents who are undertaking research for academic purposes should only use the logo of their academic institution. If the research is funded by Northern Health the logo is permitted on research materials.

About the Research Review Committee

All research conducted within or for Northern Health (NH) must be reviewed and approved by the Northern Health Research Review Committee (RRC). The RRC is mandated by NH policy to approve, reject, propose modifications to or terminate any proposed or ongoing research involving humans that is conducted: in NH facilities/programs; by NH staff or physicians; or with NH staff, physicians and/or patients.

The RRC’s function is to ensure that ethical principles and standards respecting the personal welfare and rights of research participants have been recognized and accommodated. The RRC is also directed to consider the impact of the research on the NH organization.

The Committee follows NH Research Policy and Principles, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the (TCPS-2)Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans.


Applications to the Research Review Committee

Please refer to the Application Guidelines (PDF) for important information regarding the completion of your Northern Health Application for Research (PDF). The guidelines contain instructions for submitting your application. This application covers both research ethics and operational approval requirements.

Refer to the Research Risk Assessment Guidelines (PDF) to complete Section A of your application and find information to help you obtain operational approval (PDF).


Applications from UNBC researchers

If your research is affiliated with the University of Northern British Columbia, you can submit your completed UNBC Research Ethics Board New Application Form together with the Operational Approval Form (PDF). You are required to submit your application to both UNBC and Northern Health).

Visit the UNBC Office of Research at www.unbc.ca/research for information about their research services and Research Ethics Board.


Applications requiring health records

UBC family practice resident, pharmacy resident, dietetic intern and summer medical student research projects

UBC and the Health Authorities have developed a process for ethical review of these resident, intern and summer medical student research projects.

Refer to the UBC Guidance Note (posted under both the UBC BREB and CREB) for the initial application review process involving studies in Northern Health. The process involves an initial application to the UBC RISe system that will be reviewed by both UBC and Northern Health, and the completion of the Operational Approval Form (PDF) to be submitted to researchcommittee@northernhealth.ca.

You can pursue research ethics approval and operational approval simultaneously.


BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative (Collaborative or Multi-Institutional Studies)

If your research requires ethics approval from multiple organizations (Universities and Health Authorities) in BC, you may be able to proceed with a Harmonized ethics review process.

The process begins with a conversation with your home Institution’s Research Ethics Office and the completion of the Cover Sheet for Harmonized Ethics Review. A flowchart of the process for review of minimal risk and above minimal risk studies can be found on the BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative Resources Page.

If you obtain research ethics approval through a Harmonized Ethics Review, your study will still require operational approval before it can proceed in Northern Health.

For operational approval, complete the application for Operational Approval Form (PDF) and submit it to researchcommittee@northernhealth.ca. You can pursue research ethics approval and operational approval simultaneously.

Learn more about the BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative.


Operational approval

All studies must have approval to conduct research at Northern Health from the Manager/Director of each department who has appropriate authority to assess the impact and to support the dedication of resources (e.g., human or financial resources, space in the facility) to the research (if applicable).

In addition to assessing the impact and dedication of resources, the Manager/Director will consider the benefits of the research and how the results can be used in Northern Health. Projects may require approval from more than one Manager or Director.

To obtain operational approval, complete the Operational Approval Form (PDF) and submit it to researchcommittee@northernhealth.ca

Refer to the NH Operational Approval for Research Projects (PDF) for information on the process for obtaining operational approval, who can grant operational approval, and the roles and responsibilities of the Researcher and the Northern Health Approval Manager.


Committee members
  • Damen DeLeenheer, Clinical Educator, NH
  • Farzana Amin, Analyst, Clinical Outcomes, Research, Evaluation & Analytics, NH
  • Jennifer Begg, Executive Lead, Child & Youth Health Program, NH
  • Julia Bickford, Regional Director, Research Evaluation & Analytics, NH
  • Kerensa Medhurst, Research Facilitator, Physician Quality Improvement Special Services Committee, NH
  • Kirsten Thomson, Regional Director, Risk and Compliance, NH
  • Linda Axen, Regional Manager, Policies and Clinical Practice Standards, NH
  • Robert Pammett, Research and Development Pharmacist – Primary Care, NH
  • Sam Milligan, Carrier Sekani Family Services
  • Tamara Checkley, Lead Research and Evaluation (Chair), NH
  • Tanis Hampe, Regional Director, Quality & Innovation, NH
  • Vanessa Salmons, Executive Lead, Perinatal Program, Clinical Programs, NH
  • Vash Ebbadi, Regional Manager, Population & Public Health, Support Unit, NH

For more information on the Research Review Committee and its process, please email researchcommittee@northernhealth.ca