Research and clinical care go hand-in-hand for Dr. Adam Huber

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“Research is embedded in clinical care. It’s how you assess certain problems and outcomes,” says Dr. Adam Huber, a pediatric rheumatologist and IWK’s longest-serving chair of the Research Ethics Board (REB).

Huber is engaged in clinical care and clinical trial research investigating causes and treatments of pediatric rheumatic illnesses. His particular area of interest focuses on the assessment and management of children with juvenile dermatomyositis — an inflammatory disease of the muscle, skin, and blood vessels. In 2017, he was the recipient of the IWK Research Award.

“As an academic physician, it’s a way to give back. Plus, the Research Ethics Board is really fun. You get to hear about all different projects within various departments that I wouldn’t otherwise hear about.”

Huber first joined the REB in 2003. Over the years, he has facilitated a move to electronic submission and review processes. He has also mentored many researchers as well as other members who serve on the REB. That breadth and depth of experience has given him a thorough understanding of how others have navigated challenges and succeeded.

“It’s been rewarding to be available and to help somebody solve problems to keep their research project moving. Being able to provide guidance to my colleagues and be a source of assistance and encouragement is a privilege,” says Huber.

The REB helps establish the quality and integrity of research at IWK Health and promotes research grounded in the quest for new knowledge and truth. It provides accountability and oversight to ensure all research undertaken complies with legal and ethical standards in the areas of social responsibility, human rights and animal welfare.

“Over the course of the past 17 years, Dr. Huber’s expertise regarding the ethical conduct of research has been essential to maintaining outstanding research standards at IWK Health,” says Dr. Jeannie Shoveller, vice president, Research & Innovation. “His contributions to building and supporting the highest standards of ethical conduct span a wide range of research disciplines, methods, and study populations.”

“Throughout his time on the REB and as an outstanding researcher, Dr. Huber has demonstrated how a focus on respectful approaches to health research can offer important, sometimes life-saving opportunities to children, women, and families,” says Shoveller.

As co-chair of the IWK REB, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, Huber, alongside Eleanor Fitzpatrick (co-chair REB), worked intensively and fulfilled an instrumental role in helping to ensure and maintain the highest standards of safety and ethical conduct of research activities at the IWK, including under pandemic conditions.

“COVID related research and vaccine trials and monitoring follow all the same steps. All the clinical trials still need to be evaluated. All trials went through the same process as always and were reviewed in the same fashion,” says Huber. “It was just accelerated. Instead of a week in some cases, these would be done in six hours. But the integrity of the process is unchanged.”

Huber officially stepped down as co-chair at the end of 2020. His successor, Dr. Chris Blackmore, will serve alongside Eleanor Fitzpatrick as co-chair.

“I am delighted and grateful that Dr. Blackmore and Ms. Fitzpatrick are fulfilling the duties of REB Co-Chairs,” says Shoveller. “Their expertise and dedication – and that of the entire REB membership – ensures that we are in an excellent position to continue doing outstanding science at IWK that meets the highest ethical standards.”

Huber will continue to serve as an expert advisor on the Research Management Committee – Ethics. He also continues to provide support and mentorship to his research colleagues and learners as a strong advocate with an active interest in research.

“I very much have enjoyed seeing all the research going on in the health centre. I’ve seen just about every project underway in the last 17 years which is really cool.”