As the Research Ethics BC (REBC) unit of BC AHSN continues to grow in size and scope, more new faces continue to appear in our Vancouver offices for staff events, meetings, and more. One of the individuals who is now working at our office regularly is Terri Fleming, who is one of Unit Directors for the Research Ethics BC Unit (a position that she shares with Jean Ruiz).
Terri, who’s based in Victoria, is no stranger to the field of research ethics (the process of ensuring that all research studies meet established requirements and protect the wellbeing of participants and partners). In addition to her role as Unit Lead, she co-functions as Manager of Research Ethics and Compliance at Vancouver Island Health Authority (Island Health), and for the past six years, worked with the BC Ethics Harmonization Initiative (BCEHI, a precursor to REBC).
With her experience and expertise in the field in BC, her transition to the BC AHSN organization was a seamless one.
“I was the Chair of the Advisory Committee for BCEHI for several years,” she recounted in a recent interview. “As such, I worked with the members of the committee to obtain grant funding from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research that allowed us to develop and implement collaborative models for harmonized ethical review of research studies in our province.”
“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to work with the people of BC AHSN and our stakeholders across the province.”
At BCEHI, Terri worked to meet a seemingly-challenging mandate – to help researchers to have a streamlined process for ethical review of research involving multiple institutions. As the initiative wrapped up, BC AHSN was well-positioned to embrace, and expand on the work already done through BCEHI and its partners.
“BC AHSN was the next logical home for our initiative as we expand our models to include other institutions and launched the Provincial Research Ethics Platform (PREP) for online harmonized review,” she noted. “We now feel like a part of the bigger family of supports for increasing the uptake of research-informed improvements in health and health care in BC.”
Though she works remotely most of the time, Terri has been busy starting new projects and setting up REBC administratively within its new home.
“At BC AHSN, I’ve continued to work with colleagues involved in research ethics and administration of research study approvals to start the next phase of REBC,” she said. “More recently, I’ve been involved in setting up the unit, managing budgets, hiring new team members, development of governance documents, and working with BC AHSN colleagues on the strategic plan.”
Terri’s past experience in project management (she holds two qualifications in this field) change management (in which she holds an MBA) in clinical practice (where she’s a qualified auditor for Good Clinical Practice for the conduct of clinical trials) attests to her ability to think creatively; she finds new and unique ways to work with established structures.
“I’m committed to doing something well and to bringing together all the pieces of a puzzle to reveal something great.”
“I wouldn’t say I was innately artistic (though I’m a master knitter and aspiring violinist),” she laughed, “but I’m committed to doing something well and to bringing together all the pieces of a puzzle to reveal something great.”
How does Terri see REBC growing, and how does this relate to her vision of where BC AHSN is headed in the future?
“Our near-future goals include developing Communities of Practice in the province to discuss research ethics, wider communication and outreach of the benefits of harmonized ethical review, and working towards a harmonized review process for clinical trials,” she noted.
As for being a key part of BC AHSN’s overall vision: “I see us as being an integral player in collaborative knowledge and information generation that inspires stakeholders in BC to make wise decisions, while supporting them with implementation of change.”
Speaking of wise decisions, Terri knows that she made the right move when transitioning to her role as Unit Lead of REBC.
“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to work with the people of BC AHSN and our stakeholders across the province,” she concluded. “Through the organization, we’re moving towards working together to improve health and health care through the use of research to inform decision-making and priority setting.”