The bishopâ€™s adviser for healthcare chaplaincy canon Chris Vallins has been appointed chair of a regional body tasked with scrutinising medical research â€“ one of the very few priests to ever take on such a senior role.
As new chair of the London Surrey Borders Research Ethics Committee Chris will lead ethical reviews of proposed research, considering the rights, safety, dignity and well-being of research participants, who are often patients.
Serving alongside him on the committee are medical and surgical consultants, senior nurses, pharmacists, statisticians, lawyers and â€˜layâ€™ members.
Chris said: â€œNo new drug or device can be trialled without first having ethical approval. We have applications from anywhere in the country.
â€œThese may be for clinical trials of investigational medicines and may include the use of healthy volunteers and patients. We may also review new medical devices.
â€œNo-one can be entered into a trial without it being fully described to them and their giving informed consent.
â€œThe aim always is for the best possible outcome for society combined with the least possible risk of damage to participants. Clearly there are many deep ethical problems to be addressed by such a committee and it is important that there is a high level of expertise combined with full independence from the sponsors or any other bodies.
â€œI have served on this committee for some time and feel very honoured to have been appointed as chair and will definitely need the help and backing of all the expert members of the committee!
â€œI am delighted that a priest has been chosen for this role and I hope that I can bring to the role my own faith and my passionate belief that health and wholeness are at the heart of the good news of Jesus Christ.â€