Pillars of PRIM&R: Advancing Ethical Research in Sudan

Posted by Shaquanna Philip, conference coordinator

Since we first introduced you to him, last year’s Pillars of PRIM&R Award recipient, Dr. Dya Eldin Elsayed has been working diligently to contribute to the advancement of ethical practices in the conduct of research in Sudan and, more specifically, at Alzaiem Alazhari University (AAU), where he is the Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Medicine. In his initial application, he explained that:

    “Lack of education in bioethics, lack of resources, lack of trained personnel and ineffective ethics review process are some of the challenges faced by the national research system in [Sudan]. These deficiencies are compounded by less developed health system[s] and health services, [a] high illiteracy rate, ignorance of human right[s] including [a] right to health care. These facts raised the questions of potential exploitation of research participants and poor communities.”

The Pillars of PRIM&R award has supported his development of a bioethics curriculum for undergraduate students, as well as an ethics training program for both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the school of Medicine and Health Studies. Below Dr. Elsayed explains his motivation to develop the program and how earning the Pillars of PRIM&R award has impacted his professional development.

    Developing a curriculum in research ethics
    Dya Eldin M. Elsayed

    The idea to develop a curriculum in research ethics came into my view from the fact that knowledge about research ethics is deficient among Sudanese researchers. Bioethics is not taught in most of medical and health-related schools in our country. However, where it is taught, the teaching is very insufficient. As bioethics is still, in our country, in its early stage of development, there are few experts (some scholars and professionals) in the field of bioethics. Therefore we lack both experts to undertake the teaching matters and the teaching materials.I am involved in, and interested in, teaching of medical practices as well as research ethics. I recognized the need for capacity building in research ethics and human protection. I heard of PRIM&R and its commitment to support and enhance development of research ethics across the world. I applied for [the] PRIM&R fellowship program with a proposal “to develop research ethics curriculum for graduate students in Sudan”. Most of [the] graduate students in the schools of medicine and other health related schools involve human subjects in their graduate research. They are the potential researchers, so I decided to place this teaching program in graduate faculty. Fortunately enough my application was accepted by the review committee of the PRIM&R award.The award was highly appreciated by my colleagues in the department of community medicine, by the Dean faculty and the Vice Chancellor of Alzaiem Alazhari University (AAU). They were very exalted and congratulated me and availed themselves to help.Developing the research ethics curriculum was an excellent learning opportunity for me. I made a thorough literature review and extensive consultation process. Consultations involved many experts in the field, interested organizations and individuals, a wide range of researchers and colleagues. Finally the draft was submitted to PRIM&R.The curriculum now is submitted to the scientific committee of the Graduate Faculty at AAU for review and approval and introduction to students in the next academic year which will start in October.I owe PRIM&R great gratitude not only for accepting my application, but also for giving me the opportunity to search and develop this training program. The award gave me the opportunity, the enthusiasm and potential to work hard and to move from just [an] interested person in bioethics to a professional in research ethics teaching. I believe that this newly developed research ethics curriculum will provide substantial opportunities for contribution to the development of medical and research ethics education in all of the areas where deficits exist.

Since its inception in 1974, PRIM&R has been infused with the wisdom, devotion, and vision of a number of highly respected and uncommonly committed directors, members, and volunteers. When two such revered board members, Louis Lasagna and Herman Wigodsky, passed away, their colleagues on the board established the Pillars of PRIM&R Memorial Fund to honor them and other longstanding PRIM&R contributors by making a small annual grant to one person who is working to advance ethical research.