Research in Northern Health

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

  1. Research ethics approval
  2. Northern Health operational approval
  3. When the study requests disclosure of personal information (identifying or de-identified), an approved NH Information Sharing Agreement (ISA) is needed.
  4. When the study requests to implement new technology or change existing technology, an approved NH Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) is needed. (See below for more details).

Research ethics, operational, and other necessary approvals can be pursued simultaneously. Once the conditions for all necessary approvals are met, NH Research Ethics Board will issue the NH Authorization Letter to the principal investigator.  Only after receiving the Northern Health Institutional Authorization Letter the study can commence.

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 Ethics Board

NH Ethics Service provides support to NH staff, patients or clients, families and investigators in four CORE areas: Clinical, Organizational ethics, Research ethics, and Education.

Regarding Research Ethics, NH Ethics Service strives to ensure the ethical acceptability of all scientific studies conducted under the jurisdiction of NH in order to protect the research participants, the researchers and the organization. This responsibility is fulfilled through the Research Review Committee (RRC).

NH RRC reviews applications for research that involves NH staff members, patients or clients, data, or facilities.

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.

NH RRC members, listed below, are employees, physicians, and community members skilled in diverse fields relevant to the type of scientific studies conducted at NH.

  • Esther Alonso-Prieto, PhD, Bioethics, Clinical Research, Qualitative Research, NH (Chair)
  • Farzana Amin, PhD, Clinical Research, NH
  • Marcelo Bravo, PhD, Patient-Oriented Research and Knowledge Translation, NH
  • James Bruce, RPN, Mental Health, Substance Use, NH
  • Kaitlyn Greer, MSIT, Information Management and Governance, NH
  • Damanpreet Kandola, PhD, Health Services, Patient-Oriented Research, Rural Health, and Knowledge Translation, NH
  • Ron Klausing, Data Privacy, NH
  • Roseann Larstone, PhD, Indigenous Health, NH
  • Linda Nelson, Patient Partner
  • Robert Pammett, M.Sc., Clinical Research, Practice Based Research, Pharmacy, NH
  • Joanna Paterson, M.Sc., Mental Health, Substance Use, NH
  • Rai Read, M.Sc., Mental Health, Seniors Health, Substance Use, NH
  • Rebecca Sketchley, MA, BSW, RSW, Qualitative Research, Marginalized and Vulnerable Populations, NH
  • Philip Smith, Community Partner
  • Esther Stewart, Patient Partner
  • Diane Suter, PhD, Community Partner, Scientific Methodology

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

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

Ethics review of joint research projects involving Northern Health and external organizations in BC (e.g., Universities, including UNBC, and Health Authorities) are to be completed through the harmonized ethics review process using the PREP (RISe) platform. Learn more at Research Ethics BC.

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 You can pursue research ethics approval and operational approval simultaneously.


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.

To obtain operational approval, complete the Operational Approval Form (PDF) and submit it to This form contains information about the roles and responsibilities of the researcher and the Northern Health operational approvers.

Please note that the operational approval process will be conducted by the Research Engagement Team. Investigators are not required to contact the operational approvers and obtain signatures.

Recruitment supports at NH

  • For studies that have completed applicable approvals. For example: Ethics, Privacy and Operational Approval, could request NH Research assistance for recruitment purposes. Note: The NH Research Department has limited capacity to work with researchers for the purpose of recruitment. However, approved studies could ask to advertise their study or surveys for recruitment supports, discussed on a case by case basis. Once discussed and if there is administrative capacity, the NH Research Department can support recruitment via the following methods:
    1. Connecting researchers with Reach BC for provincial and regional online recruitment supports. Find more information about REACH BC.
    2. Displaying authorized recruitment posters via digital screens at selected clinical sites. Note: Additional information to access this service will be provided, digital posters must adhere to format requirements by the screening software.
    3. Include study information in NH Staff and/or NH Medical or NH Research and Knowledge Translation Newsletter. Note: Information must be received and authorized at least two weeks in advance.
    4. Include the recruitment or study information at the NH Research board located at UHNBC in Prince George. Note: Information must be received and authorized at least two weeks in advance. 
    5. For social media requests via NH institutional social media channels such as Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook, there is limited capacity due to other institutional communication programming. Note: Accessing these platforms will require additional institutional communication requirements.

For additional information, email:


Applications requiring health records


The NH Privacy Office is committed to research activities and is engaged as part of the research review and approval process.

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.

Information Sharing Agreements (ISA)

When a research study requests disclosure of personal information (whether the information identifying or de-identified), a NH ISA is required. An ISA includes the terms and conditions by which NH requires the study to safeguard the information being disclosed, along with destruction timing, transfer protocols, and information included. An ISA for de-identified information is simpler than the more detailed ISA required for disclosure of identifying information.

Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA)

When the study requests to implement new technology or change existing technology, a NH PIA is required. Northern Health uses a PIA to evaluate privacy compliance issues, privacy risks and related mitigations before the initiative is launched. NH still requires a PIA even if no personal information is involved.

Please contact NH Privacy to schedule an orientation to the NH PIA template. After orientation, a current copy of the PIA template will be provided.

You may access, privacy definitions - personal information, for insight on NH privacy definitions related to personal information.

It is expected that the requirement for an ISA or PIA has been identified during Ethics or Operational approval activity. If there is a need to contact NH Privacy outside of that process, you may do so by sending an email to


Clinical trials

A clinical trial (a form of clinical research) is any investigation involving participants that evaluates the effects of one or more health-related interventions on health outcomes. Interventions include, but are not restricted to, drugs, radiopharmaceuticals, cells and other biological products, surgical procedures, radiologic procedures, devices, genetic therapies, natural health products, process-of-care changes, preventive care, manual therapies and psychotherapies. Clinical trials may also include questions that are not directly related to therapeutic goals – for example, drug metabolism – in addition to those that directly evaluate the treatment of participants.

Qualified Principal Investigator training and information required:

  • GCP- ICH certification through CITTI
  • TCPS2 certification
  • Curriculum vitae (current, signed and date)
  • License numbers
  • Additional training may be required as necessary by protocol

Clinical Investigative Plan (CIP):

1-2 page summary document to include:

  • Clinical investigative plan number
  • CIP title
  • Short title
  • Sponsor: Principal investigator
  • Primary endpoint
  • Study population
  • Local recruitment population
  • Involved NH department(s)
  • Summary background
  • Discussion points
  • Any other questions or concerns

Applications from UNBC researchers

Ethics review of joint research projects involving Northern Health and external organizations in BC (e.g. Universities, including UNBC, and Health Authorities) are to be completed through the harmonized ethics review process using the PREP (RISe) platform. Learn more at Research Ethics BC.


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

You can pursue research ethics approval and operational approval simultaneously.