Rethinking Ethics Review in Africa: Operating RECs in a VUCA Context – Webinar

You are invited to participate in an interactive webinar on Tuesday, 24 October 2023 from 14:00 to 16:00 SAST.

Zoom link to be used:

Dear Ethics Committee Administrator

Rethinking Ethics Review in Africa: Operating RECs in a VUCA Context

VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Operating in a VUCA context entails a situation where there are constant and unpredictable changes. As such, VUCA demands quick adjustment of traditional methods and prompt adaptation to new management and leadership approaches to accommodate recent trends.

The recent past has exposed what has traditionally been a phlegmatic ethics review system to a VUCA context. Characterised by a desperate need for timeous decision-making making, rigorous review, often without adequate, reliable information, this has caused serious disruptions in how RECs are expected to operate. In Africa, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health emergencies, coupled with the invention of new technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, personalised medicine, virtual research methodologies and gene editing, among others, have forced RECs to rethink their traditional approaches of ethics review and decision making. This context can affect how research is conceptualised, reviewed, and conducted following approval. Furthermore, how RECs have navigated through the various disruptions and the different decision-making models they adopted can offer a new frontier that can inform the development of REC’s skills for resilience and preparedness for future public health emergencies.

EthiXPERT (, a Non-Profit Company registered in South Africa, aims to build responsible and ethical research capacity in and for Africa. In its 2023 Webinar series, EthiXPERT hopes to bring together experts and research stakeholders in research ethics and integrity to reflect on the experiences, including the challenges, disruptions and opportunities presented by different contexts that demand RECs to consider new ways of operation. Participants will be engaged to share their experiences navigating the unique challenges and identify new operational considerations.

Kind regards,

Francis Kombe


Meet the Presenters:

Sidney Engelbrecht is a Senior Research Compliance Specialist at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia. He is a seasoned research ethics administrator in human research, animal research and biosafety, and research integrity. Sidney was the Principal Investigator for a project “Gauging the need for research ethics training in South African Developing Community Countries”. He obtained professional recognition as a Research Management Professional accredited by the International Professional Recognition Council and is the recipient of the Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Research Management Profession from the South African Department of Science and Innovation and the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association. In 2020, he co-led the drafting of Research Ethics Guidelines and a Toolkit for Access and Benefit-sharing in the context of The Nagoya Protocol for SADC, which led to two peer-reviewed papers. He authored two chapters in the student coursebook on Jurisprudence for Laboratory Animal Technologists offered by the University of South Africa.

Valery Sokolchick holds an PhD in Philosophy. Her main interests are bioethics, medical ethics, research ethics, methodology of science and open science. She has been working in education since 2000 with students.

She has also been working with medical doctors and PhD students at the Belarusian Medical Academy of Postgraduate Education since 2015. Valery is an active scientific researcher in the field of biomedical ethics, research ethics, and methodology of science and as such has been involved in WHO, EOSC and RDA projects. In 2019 she became an expert in bioethics at DH-Bio (Council of Europe) and thereafter, the leader of the Republican Centre on Bioethics, a member of REC of BelMAPE. Valery is also an associate professor of bioethics, medical ethics and methodology of science and was the manager of humanitarian projects founded and supported by UNESCO in 2019 and 2022.

Elif Ekmekci Perihan holds a Ph.D. in History of Medicine and Ethics. She is an associate professor and head of the History of Medicine and Ethics department at TOBB ETU School of Medicine where she is also chairing the Intuitional Review Board. She was a research fellow at Imperial College, London, a Fogarty Fellow at Harvard University and a fellow of the WIRB in Seattle Washington. She served as the head of the EU relations department of the Ministry of Health Turkey and developed several projects in alliance with the EU. Elif was the Turkish representative for the European Centre for Disease Control Advisory Board. She holds memberships with the Open Science Committee of TOBB ETU, the World Association for Medical Law and the International Forum of Teachers of the International Unit in Bioethics. Elif is also the co-author of the book titled “Artificial Intelligence and Bioethics” published by Springer in 2020.

Carly Seedall is a Research Analyst at the European Network of Research Ethics Committees (EUREC) and a Research Associate at the University of Bonn. Within the EU-funded project PREPARED, Carly explores the needs and experiences of global research actors (including RECs) during sudden, global crises. Carly has a background in the social sciences, holding a Master’s degree in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies from Stanford University.