As Simple as A + B = C

Columbus was a wonderful locale for PRIM&R’s 2018 IACUC Conference and certainly demonstrated what the first few days of spring can look like in the Midwest! The PRIM&R Board, Planning Committee, and staff consistently manage to organize an outstanding array of keynote speakers along with amazing breakout sessions and workshops.

Preconference programs at PRIM&R always offer a great “bonus day” for learning and networking. This year I attended “Beyond the Basics,” which I had attended previously, but the incomparable team of Bill Greer and Ron Banks manage to keep the agenda and discussion up-to-date and relevant to current topics in IACUC administration. The session is conducted in roundtable format to maximize participant interactions—so as much as I always glean from Bill and Ron, I learn just as much from other session participants!

Regulatory burden has been a topic of ongoing discussion over the past few years. It seems we most frequently look at this issue from the investigator’s point of view and ask how we can reduce the paperwork the IACUC “creates” for PIs.  In “Beyond the Basics” we tried to look at things in a different way and assess how much burden we are creating for ourselves by using protocol approval as a “carrot-on-a-stick” to get PIs to provide information that may not truly be an IACUC responsibility.

There’s a seemingly simple equation that I feel provides great food for thought and discussion:  A (Administrative Regulatory Burden) + B (Burden Imposed on PIs) = C (Compliance Confidence). If you want to decrease B in this equation then you need to increase A to maintain the same level of C. How compliance confident do you want to be? How compliance confident does your IO want to be?

How many of us ask questions on our protocols form that are not truly questions that necessarily need to be asked by the IACUC, but we end up asking those questions because the information needs to be collected by someone at the institution/business? And how often are we maybe collecting information that won’t get used? An occasional review of all our protocol forms can help ensure that we are not collecting excess information from PIs that is not being used by someone at the institution. While investigators don’t need to know the end-all of each and every tidbit we gather, it should be clear that we are not asking them to answer meaningless questions. All involved in compliance also need to regularly communicate to ensure that the same information is not being gathered by multiple offices, especially those whose registrations and approvals frequently intersect (IACUC, IRB, Biological Safety, Chemical Safety, etc.).

A daylong session cannot possibly be summarized in a few hundred words but suffice it to say that I highly recommend “Beyond the Basics” to anyone.

Did you start singing “ABC” by the Jackson 5 when you read the title of this post? The answer to that question may help identify what generation you fall into and be relevant in one of my next blog submissions!

Katherine Branson, CPIA, has been involved in research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) for over 30 years. After graduation, she started coordinating the 100-level Physiology labs to give herself some time to decide what she wanted to be when she grew up. That job led to lab manager positions in a variety of research labs across campus where she worked with a multitude of species. A chance meeting with a secretary in the clearance aisle at Walmart (true story) led to Ms. Branson applying for a position in the newly-created University of Illinois IACUC office. PRIM&R meetings helped her develop and define the procedures and policies for the UIUC IACUC and separate them from those of the Division of Animal Resources.  After thirteen plus years as an IACUC Administrator, she still finds PRIM&R webinars and meetings invaluable for networking and learning about her ever-changing role in the world of research compliance. Ms. Branson’s years as a lab manager/lab technician also provide her insight for her current role of IACUC Specialist. She now spends less time pondering what she wants to be when she grows up… somehow she lucked into doing exactly what she loves. 

Members of PRIM&R’s Blog Squad and other guest contributors are valued members of our community willing to share their insights. The views expressed in their posts do not necessarily reflect those of PRIM&R or its employees.