Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Serving on an IRB: A Community Member’s Perspective

Advancing research and representing the public interest

When Jerry Rabow was invited to serve as a community member on an institutional review board, he accepted primarily because of his long-standing interest in science and medicine. More than four years later, he remains on the IRB out of respect for the review process and the conviction that he’s making a difference for research participants.

A retired attorney and the author of three books, Mr. Rabow is one of two community members on the IRB of an AAHRPP-accredited major medical center. The experience has given him an insider’s view of the complexities of the research review process and the constant effort to weigh the risk of a particular study against the potential scientific advances.

“Before I joined the IRB, I was aware of the research enterprise and its importance,” Mr. Rabow says. “What I didn’t know was how exhaustive the analysis is, especially from the point of view of balancing the protections for participants and the benefits to the general public.”

Knowing that the federal government requires every IRB to include at least one “non-scientist” member, Mr. Rabow had misgivings about his role.

 “I was concerned that I might have been invited just to fulfill the regulatory requirement,” he says. “If that turned out to be the case, I would have given it a try and then left. Instead the opposite proved to be true.”

In fact, in “An IRB Public Member’s Education,” published in the December 2011 issue of the Journal of Clinical Research Best Practices, Mr. Rabow cites an example of how his questions affected the IRB’s decision on a proposed study to evaluate the effectiveness of bariatric surgery. Ultimately, the IRB returned the proposal to the researchers, asking them to resubmit their application after making changes to address Mr. Rabow’s concerns.

1 comment:

  1. I feel Rabow has some true leadership qualities and thanks so much for sharing this with me!! Sample Proposal