Research Ethics

Research Ethics and Capacity Building (RESCAP) is one component of the UKZN Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI).  The RESCAP co-PI is Professor Doug Wassenaar and the component is managed by Ms Nivedhna Singh.

Research systems are essential components of innovative evidence-based healthcare systems, and functional, competent research ethics systems are essential components of research systems. The aim of this component is to develop and improve institutional research ethics capacity at UKZN, provincially and nationally to capacitate research and innovation in the region.  RESCAP activities provide beneficiaries with relevant theoretical and applied research ethics training. Each RESCAP activity has been specially designed to provide in-depth basic training; the types of training we offer enable our students to progress towards more advanced training in the future. The components are held at different times of the year. MEPI sponsors all students fully or partially.

RESCAP consists of 5 components which are uniquely aimed at research ethics training utilising different types of learning and teaching methods.  The components are described briefly below. 

1. We have published an online research ethics module specific to South Africa on the Training and Resources in Research Ethics Evaluation (TRREE) website ( ).  The South African National TRREE Supplement was based on South African law, ethics guidance and health regulations. The aim of this module was to train individuals on how to conduct ethical research in South Africa. This module was launched online at the end of 2013. Like all other online TRREE modules, it is available free of charge to all users, is certificate-bearing and is easily accessible on low-bandwidth internet connections. The TRREE-SA module is currently being revised to comply with 2015 SA National guidelines.

The other four other components of RESCAP are specially designed to create opportunities through scholarships/fellowships to students, allowing them to be trained in conducting ethical research and reviewing research protocols. 

2. The Biomedical Research Ethics Committee (BREC) fellowship allows two PhD students to shadow the UKZN REC/IRB chair. The aim of this fellowship was to provide onsite applied REC/IRB training and allow the candidate to gain an understanding of the theoretical and operational aspects of research ethics review, and the roles and responsibilities of health-related Research Ethics Committees. Students are also required to present literature-based opinions on topical questions to BREC.

3. In the SARETI modular training component of RESCAP, research ethics modules are offered to selected national and international students and enable them to be trained in topics related to research ethics, HIV/AIDS and ethics review. The aim of this training component is for biomedical staff and postgraduate researchers to gain advanced theoretical and practical knowledge in the ethical review of complex research protocols such as those for HIV prevention trials, and in institutionalising research ethics review in their home institution. These modules are part of another larger FIC/NIH funded programme known as the South African Research Ethics Training initiative (SARETI) (see ).   

4. RESCAP also invites staff to be trained in grant writing and grant management. The aim of this workshop is to provide training and allow local and international researchers and research administrators to gain an in-depth understanding of funding opportunities, application process, budgeting, management of awards, and reporting. Four successful such workshops have been held to date, attended by over 100 participants.

5. The final component of RESCAP allows for one postgraduate student to be trained in research ethics and project management. The aim of this internship is to allow the student to specialise in research ethics and project management. This intern manages the RESCAP MEPI portfolio and works on publishing RESCAP outputs and presents our data at local and international conferences.

For further information please contact Ms Nivedhna Singh /033 2606165

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