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Take it to the IRB First

Posted on January 17, 2008

If you have a controversial protocol, approach the IRB first and the funding body second, advises Christopher M. Ryan (bio).


The downfall I think of early researchers in terms of IRB issues is that there is this fear of this monolithic organization known as the IRB, and I think what one needs to realize today is that IRBs have been set up to actually provide young investigators and not-so-young investigators with a lot of support.

It's in my best interest as somebody who runs the IRB to have an investigator understand what they have to do, so that when I get a protocol it goes through the system smoothly and quickly and doesn't have to be reconsidered or disapproved. Because every time there is a delay it costs the investigator, but it also costs me at the IRB because it requires more of our effort and more energy.

So we really encourage investigators to meet with the IRB, especially if the project is complicated. And I will also say for people who are planning to do research and obtain NIH funding, when the protocol is an especially controversial protocol, take it to the IRB first and copy — include a copy of the IRB approval letter in the NIH submission.

I think it makes a big, big difference because increasingly NIH study sections are raising questions about how an IRB may judge a particular protocol, and the reality is every IRB is a little different.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2007 Career Development Institute for Bipolar Disorder in Pittsburgh, PA.


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