IRB, What’s Your Function? February 27th, 2012

Many people first learn about Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) in a university or medical setting, as discussions about IRBs often stem from discussions about biomedical research and studies. Even in the context of a medical research discussion, a person may not understand completely the responsibilities or function of the Institutional Review Board.

The Institutional Review Board, as designated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Human Research Protections ( OHRP), is to review and monitor research programs that involve biomedical study of human subjects. IRBs perform this function to protect the safety and rights of human research subjects.I found some more information here. IRBs review all aspects of a program before an institution is approved to conduct its research. Types of information that IRBs review include various procedures that will be followed, methods for data collection and drafts of consent forms. In addition, if a research program involves risks, an IRB will review these risks and why an institution feels the risks are reasonable for the type of study. IRBs then approve or deny programs or request program revisions. Once programs are approved, IRBs continue to safeguard human participants by periodically reviewing and re-evaluating the programs.

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