EPFL Human Research Ethics Committee

Introduction and mandate

EPFL is committed to respect for the basic principles of research ethics. The EPFL Human Research Ethics Committee reviews projects conducted by EPFL researchers that involve human participants and personal data.

The HREC reviews, for example, projects that involve non-invasive experiments, the collection or processing of personal data (privacy issues) and projects that make use of interviews, observations, questionnaires/surveys, tracking of participants, or that use secondary use of information provided for other purposes (e.g. social media sites).

If the cantonal ethics committee is competent to review a project, the HREC is not competent. The cantonal ethics committees (CER-VD and CCER for example) evaluate projects that fall within the scope of the Federal Act on Research involving Human Beings (Human Research Act – HRA). The HRA applies generally to projects related to human diseases and the structure and function of the human body and those that involve the use of health-related personal data.

HREC

The membership of the Committee is composed of 18 experts in different areas: ethics, legal, medical, information and communication systems, engineering, architecture, and social humanities.

More information on the mandate of the HREC can be found in the HREC Bylaws (Lex 1.3.4).

HREC review process

In order to facilitate the work of the Committee members, researchers who want to submit a project to the HREC are requested to complete the HREC Application Form. In addition, templates are available for the Information Sheet (English/French) and the Consent Form (English/French) for research participants.

The application form needs to be sent to Research Office (ReO)/Ethics Affairs at research@epfl.ch. ReO/Ethics Affairs is the liaison between the HREC and the researchers during the review process.

Depending on the complexity of a project, different review procedures can be used (‘normal review’, ‘simplified review’, ‘amendment review’).

The HREC review is an on-line process. However, a meeting with the PI can be requested if needed. The entire evaluation takes approximately 5-6 weeks (if there are no major questions and comments).

Contact

Please contact Research Office/Ethics Affairs for more information regarding the HREC: research@epfl.ch