Human embryo research
The HFEA can grant research licences for up to three years for individual research projects. All licence applications, renewals are evaluated by an HFEA Research Licence Committee.
The research licensing process
The process for applying for a research licence consists of five steps:
1. Contacting the HFEA
The procedure for contacting the HFEA depends on whether you are applying for a new licence or renewing an existing one.
- New licences: Most researchers contact the HFEA to discuss their proposed research before they submit their application for a licence. The research centre also must also obtain approval from their local research Ethics Committee.
- Existing licence holders: Existing licence holders liaise directly with the HFEA Regulation Department on renewals and evaluations.
2. Applying for a licence (initial/renewal)
The centre sends its completed application to the HFEA ComplianceDepartment, together with an administration fee, which varies depending on the nature of the research.
The HFEA aims to process 90% of research licence applications within three months of receipt of a properly completed application (which includes the views of the peer reviewers).
3. Undergoing peer reviews
The HFEA Compliance Department initiates peer reviews to determine whether the application:
- comes within the statutory requirements of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended
- requires human embryos to fulfil its aims and objectives
- requires the numbers and types of embryos described in the application
4. Being inspected
If the peer reviews are satisfactory, the HFEA initiates visits to proposed research sites. These visits are conducted by HFEA Compliance staff. The primary focus of these visits is to:
- review proposed project protocols
- inspect research laboratories
- meet research teams.
Following these visits, the inspectors produce an inspection report.
5. Presentation to the Research Licence Committee
The inspectors’ report, together with the application and the peer reviews are presented to the HFEA’s Research Licence Committee, who decide whether to grant a research licence.
Thank you for your interest in our clinic inspection reports and Licence Committee minutes.
For ease of use, the reports and Licence Committee minutes can be found in our Choose a Fertility Clinic search - alongside their corresponding clinic listing.
Page last updated: 09 July 2012