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The Post Check out the four-part series “The IRB and me”

Check out the four-part series “The IRB and me”

By Paul Gabrielsen, Science Writer, University of Utah Communications

Imagine you’re sitting in your doctor’s office. As part of a routine visit, she tells you about a study at the local university that’s well suited for someone of your age, background or health status. It’s an investigational new drug in clinical trials, and they need volunteers.

What would you feel? What questions would you have? Maybe you might ask: “How do I know this won’t cause me harm? Do I know everything I need to make an informed decision? What safeguards are in place? Is the knowledge gained from this research going to be worth the risks?”

It’s OK. Those are the right questions to ask. And at universities throughout the country, including at the University of Utah, an oversight board has already asked them to make sure that every person who participates in a research study is protected from harm and treated with dignity. That board is called the Institutional Review Board, or the IRB.

This series that will introduce you to what the Institutional Review Board is and what it does to protect people involved in scientific studies.

Learn more about the IRB in the other parts of this series or on their website here. Read all four parts in the links below:

Part 1 explores the history and operations of the IRB.
Part 2 shows how an ecologist learned the ropes of the IRB process.
Part 3 tells the story of a research participant who ran into obstacles, and how the IRB is working to remove those obstacles.
Part 4 introduces two IRB members and how they approach reviewing a study.