WIRB-Copernicus Group (WCG), a provider of regulatory and ethical review services and software to support clinical research, has launched WCG Foundation, the first 501(c)(3) public charity founded by an independent institutional review board (IRB) to strengthen protections for research participants and improve health and well-being worldwide.
“As the industry leader, it is our responsibility to introduce new and transformative ideas; ones that will result in an improvement in the quality of clinical research and the enhancement of human health,” said WCG Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Donald Deieso, Ph.D. “We established WCG Foundation because we believe in the power of the independent public charity and in its extraordinary potential to make difference in the lives of desperately ill patients, research professionals and research participants.”
WCG Foundation will initially focus on three programs: advancing education and training in research ethics at U.S. academic institutions, providing scholarships for the Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) International Fellows Program, and making IRB review more affordable for patients who are desperate to gain access to experimental treatments.
“We see an enormous opportunity—and obligation—to build an educational infrastructure that can strengthen research protections, elevate the quality of research and, ultimately, increase its benefit to humankind,” said Marjorie Speers, Ph.D., who was tapped to serve as WCG Foundation executive director. “We also empathize with patients seeking one last source of hope and, therefore, will work to reduce financial barriers and help make experimental treatments more accessible.”
The former president and CEO of the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, Speers was acting executive director of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission and oversaw research protections for domestic and international research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To improve training in research ethics, IRB review and management, and IRB regulatory compliance, WCG Foundation will provide grants for academic institutions to develop courses, and certificate and degree programs that professionalize IRB training. The foundation also will expand the existing WIRB International Fellows Program, providing scholarships to help enable global healthcare professionals to receive research ethics education in the U.S.