Monday, July 23, 2012

AAHRPP President and CEO Writes Commentary on Labeling IRB Members

In the July 2012 issue of Academic Medicine, Marjorie Speers, President and CEO, AAHRPP, and Susan Rose, Executive Director, Office for the Protection of Research Subjects at the University of Southern California, wrote a commentary titled, “Labeling institutional review board (IRB) members does not lead to better protections for research participants.” They assert that the confusion about membership and representation on institutional review boards (IRBs) is attributable to the federal regulations themselves, as well as to the interpretation of those regulations by regulatory agencies. They suggest moving away from a system that labels IRB members—such as scientists, non-scientists, and non-affiliated members—and toward ensuring that the composition of the IRB results in an appropriate ethics review of the proposed research study. Further, they advocate training and supporting IRB members so that all members may participate fully in IRB discussions.

The invited commentary was provided in response to an article by Robert Klitzman, M.D., that looks at the roles of non-affiliated and non-scientific IRB members. Based on a survey of IRB chairs and directors, he found that they were confused about the roles and responsibilities of non-affiliated and non-scientific IRB members, as well as about how to train them and engage them in the review of proposed research studies.

The commentary and article may be viewed at and, respectively.

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