Meet Myra Luna-Lucero, EdD, who’ll be covering the 2020 Advancing Ethical Research Conference (AER20) as a member of the Blog Squad. Members of PRIM&R’s conference Blog Squad provide an insider’s view of the conferences by sharing their experience before, during, and after the meeting.
As I reflect on the status of human subjects research in the time of COVID-19, I do so from a new professional role as a Research Compliance Director, and from the perspective of someone who quickly learned the nuances of environmental, health, and safety. The pandemic also pushed me into a co-chair role of a newly formed Research Compliance and Safety Committee (RC&SC) tasked with providing content-specific expertise to the IRB and establishing an inter-departmental plan for in-person research ramp-up at the Teachers College of Columbia University after in-person interactions were suspended due to mandated quarantine restrictions.
While the IRB issues the final determination on all human subjects research protocols, the RC&SC provides insights into how researchers may begin in-person data collection safely on and off campus. The RC&SC includes representatives from the IRB, Environmental Health & Safety Office, Office of the General Counsel, Office of Risk Management, Office of Sponsored Programs, Office of Facilities Management, Public Safety Administration and Systems, Office of the Provost, Academic Affairs, and Faculty Leadership.
As an RC&SC committee we:
- Considered the safety and health of research participants as our main concern
- Remained accountable to the research community at the college
- Maintained open channels of communication to disseminate information in a timely and consistent manner
- Developed guides, policies, and procedures with an eye to their feasibility and accessibility
- Strived to implement approaches that were fair and flexible
- Remained responsive to the uncertainties inherent in the current situation and the need for guidance and clarity
- Made evidence-based and data-driven decisions, based on information from reputable, expert sources and from the needs and experiences of our researchers
- Operated on the tenets of the Belmont Report, instantiating respect, beneficence, and justice for all research subjects, investigators, staff, and students
At each of these points we reviewed and designed materials, conducted internal program evaluations, and consulted the research community.
In my Blog Squad posts, I aim to share some of the design and ethical decisions we made amid a pandemic, and weave in how professional events and conferences like AER20 helped support those decisions.
Myra Luna-Lucero, EdD, is the research compliance director at Teachers College, Columbia University. As a researcher and teacher, people are her highest priority and she instinctively communicates personal concern with others. She is an adept communicator who thrives on face-to-face interactions with a diverse body of students, faculty, and staff. She brings these qualities to her work to empower others to make informed decisions and reach their goals.
Dr. Luna-Lucero encourages researchers to ponder the roles they might play in the alleviation of the troubling inequities that continue to shape our world. She guides researchers on how to treat everyone as autonomous decision-makers who possess unique opinions. She presents campus workshops on the importance of ethics, confidentiality, and protecting vulnerable populations. She meets individually with researchers to strategize ways to protect human subjects and do good work in the world.
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.
PRIM&R’s 2020 Advancing Ethical Research Conference takes place virtually as a series of shorter, half-day online events spread out over three weeks in December (December 1-2, December 8-9, December 15-16). Register by November 30 to attend all three weeks! (You can register for weeks two and three until December 7 and December 14, respectively.)