Middleton Foundation for Ethical Studies GRAPHIC HEADER
MFES - Creating a Worldwide Forum for Ethical Studies


About MFES


The International Fellows Program

The increasing globalization of health research has led to new opportunities for fighting disease and improving healthcare around the world, particularly in resource-poor countries.  Global awareness has been raised regarding the importance of human subject protections and ethics in health research and a renewed focus has been placed on the importance of independent and competent ethical review being established in all countries where health research is undertaken.  Every project should be required to undergo proper scientific and ethical review, particularly within the country where the research is to be carried out.

Adequate and appropriate ethical review processes are a requirement.  However, in many countries in the world today, where important research needs to be conducted, insufficient procedures, knowledge and understanding exists, among both sponsors and the country, regarding proper ethical review and oversight.  An improved structure for approaching and debating health research ethics is required.

The International Fellows Program

International guidance and national oversight are essential to developing well functioning ethical review systems, but these alone will not be enough. Without a systematic approach to information gathering, knowledge sharing, and capacity building, international ethics standards will not themselves achieve sufficient protections for those people serving as the test subjects.  Independent and competent ethical review needs to be ensured in all countries.  A strong credible system of human subject protection works to gain the respect and support of leaders in countries where research is conducted and needed.  This serves to build a trusting relationship between the local governments, regulators, researchers, medical communities and research subjects.  Unless a functional system can be implemented it will significantly impact the ability of government agencies and private sponsors to continue research to promote drug development and to make medicine and vaccines available where they are most needed. 

To address this global need, in 2003 a program was established through the collaborative efforts of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO)/TDR, University of Washington, Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) and the Middleton Foundation for Ethical Studies (MFES) to develop and implement "Best Practices" systems in ethics committees where none existed, and to assist countries in systematizing ethical review practices.  The primary goal of the program is to ultimately assure the protection of human subjects and respect for local culture involved in research by increasing capacity for systematic and competent ethics review of clinical research programs conducted around the world. 

The International Fellows Program

To date 52 Fellows from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America have graduated from this 6-month training program.  Following graduation the Fellows return to their countries and do great things—establishing and chairing a review board for clinical research, standardizing the review process for research within their country, conducting training seminars for medical students, conducting research projects on a multitude of topics, from human genetics to quality informed consent process in clinical trials, participating on international committees and workshops, etc.

MFES provides scholarships for these students who relocate to Olympia, WA, for six months while in training.  Additionally, MFES supports an International Alumni program to promote camaraderie and resource sharing between all Fellows, to include annual meetings and an on-line Forum for discussions between Alumni, a resource library, and enhanced communication.  MFES is working to expand the reach of both of these programs by including more countries and involving more people within all countries (government officials, researchers and regulators), as well as by further supporting research programs for the protection of human subjects and international bioethics research programs conducted by the Alumni Fellows.




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