News at Medicine - May 2009 - Dr. Richard Neuman receives President's Award for lifetime contribution to ethics

Dr. Richard Neuman receives President's Award for lifetime contribution to ethics
May 29, 2009
Dr. Richard Neuman, professor of Pharmacology (retired) in the Faculty of Medicine, has been awarded the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement for the Protection of Human Research Participants from the Canadian Association for Research Ethics Boards (CAREB). This acknowledges work he has done in Newfoundland and Labrador as well as nationally. It recognizes his outstanding contribution and commitment to enhancing the protection of human research participants and to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the processes of ethical review of research with humans.

Dr. Neuman has been a key contributor to the human research ethics environment since 2001. During this time he has shown his leadership and team building skills as a co-chair of the Human Investigation Committee (HIC); he has lent his expertise and knowledge to the development of the Provincial Health Research Ethics Authority (HREA); he has given his time and energy to represent Newfoundland and Labrador on the national and North American stage; and he has worked tirelessly to promote Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada as a place in which quality, ethical research with human subjects is valued and promoted.

Dr. Neuman comes from the Division of BioMedical Sciences in the Faculty of Medicine. During his research career before recent retirement, his work in pharmacology was with animals. In providing background information for the award to CAREB, research colleagues Sharon Buehler, Penny Moody-Corbett and Linda Purchase noted that “Most of us know the standards of protection of laboratory animals have been in place many years with an enviable national organization of oversight. As a researcher and as associate dean of Basic Medical Sciences Richard he was well aware of the importance of research ethics review. “
In 2001, at the invitation of then-Dean of Medicine Dr. Ian Bowmer, Dr. Neuman became a member of the HIC, the joint biomedical research ethics board (REB) of Memorial University and Eastern Health. In 2002 he was asked by Dean Bowmer to take on the position of co-chair of the HIC and filled that position for the next six years. 

Prior to Dr. Neuman’s involvement in the HIC, new procedures had been implemented to make the review process more efficient for researchers. He strengthened this process during his term as co-chair and also fostered the environment of open and direct communications with researchers and sponsors. 

In presenting the award, Susan Marlin, president of CAREB, noted that Dr. Neuman appreciated the need for a standard process across regions and provinces and was a driving force in the development of the harmonization of consent forms and the application process in the Atlantic region. Citing information provided by his colleagues, she included testimony of his contributions.

“He has worked to improve the data management system of the HIC Office and is now moving us to the twenty first century with focus on the development an electronic submission system,” said Mr. Purchase, HIC ethics officer.

In recognizing the rapidly evolving landscape of research ethics, Dr. Neuman was a key motivator in securing funding to support and facilitate the education of REB members through seminars and workshops and of office staff through attendance at national and North American ethics meetings. “This was not common in early days but, increasingly, we have sent our co-chairs and staff to NCEHR and CAREB meetings,” noted Dr. Moody-Corbett, associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Medicine.

“During his early term as co-chair a policy subcommittee was instituted that develops policies and standard operating procedures in response to issues arising within the HIC,” said Dr. Buehler, past co-chair of HIC. “Richard has been part of this committee since its inception and has worked   to ensure we are in compliance with national and international guidelines and regulations.  He was part of the team developing the university document for research ethics review in response to the Tri-Council mandate and subsequently, one of three HIC members developing a manual of standard operating procedures. He was key in our Health Canada audit of clinical trials.”

“Richard is a strong proponent of ongoing review and quality assurance,” said Dr. Buehler. “He strongly supported the development of a pilot monitoring program for the HIC, and obtained funding from Dr. James Rourke, dean of Medicine, to fund one of the national meetings of QAHRN (Quality Assurance in Human Research Network), a group of research ethics board administrators and members who met to discuss issues of quality assurance in research ethics review.” 

“Richard has been an important liaison and contributor to NCEHR and CAREB and is a member of the Canadian General Standards Board of Health Canada,” Dr. Moody-Corbett. “He was elected to the CAREB Board of Directors for 2005-2008, helping to organize the annual general meeting in 2006, chairing two working groups, and continues to serve as the CAREB voting representative on the Standards Group, charged with developing a Standard for research ethics boards reviewing clinical trials in Canada.”

A small working group was established in 1999 to discuss and initiate the process of furthering protection of human research participants through development of a provincial research ethics board, in conjunction with a strategy to ensure genetics benefit. “Richard joined this group in 2003 and has been an active participant in working with the Provincial Government on developing the new legislation and once the legislation was passed he became a member of the Transition Team, a group charged with overseeing implementation of the legislation. Proclamation of the legislation will hopefully take place in the near future,” said Dr. Moody-Corbett. 

“In addition to these many accomplishments Richard has found time to be an educator, a mentor, a colleague and a friend to many,” said Ms. Purchase.

CAREB is a grassroots national membership organization intended to represent the interests of all Canadian Research Ethics Boards. The award was made at the 2009 CAREB National Conference and Annual General Meeting in Vancouver held April 30-May 2.