Annual Freak-Out!

 PRIM&R is pleased to bring you a live post from the first day of the 2011 Advancing Ethical Research Conference and the PRIM&R Blog Squad. The PRIM&R Blog Squad is composed of PRIM&R members who are devoted to blogging prior to, live from, and after our conferences.

Every year, when I come to the Advancing Ethical Research Conference, I have a freak-out moment.  It’s the moment when I learn something new about the way research protections works, and I realize, with a sinking feeling, that I have a lot of work on my hands when I go back home.

Today, I attended the pre-conference program Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) Basics: An Introduction to the NIH Guidelines and the Oversight of Recombinant DNA Research. I attended this class because I’m a “newbie” to IBC administration. At the end of the day, after listening to all of the presentations, I am pretty sure I’m going to have to go back and look at our policies and training. My institution’s forms will need to be assessed as well.

Unfortunately, we don’t  have any IRB members that sit on an IBC, so it’s now going to be up to me to make sure that any potential IBC concerns are raised. Suddenly, I’m overwhelmed. Did I miss something?  Is our one IBC protocol on campus funded by the National Institutes of Health?   I almost started hyperventilating!

As I sat listening to  the day’s presentations, my brain began to wander to the one protocol that fits into the IBC category at my institution, an ongoing, longitudinal study in which the principal investigator collects DNA samples from study participants (without personally idenitifable information).

Since, I’m quite familiar with this particular study, I started reviewing the IRB protocol in my mind.   What conditions would require this protocol to undergo  IBC review?  To be honest, I didn’t have a clear idea on what rDNA is before attending the program today. Hearing the definition of rDNA t left me anxious until I realized that this protocol’s research team does not take two strains of DNA and combine them into one, nor are they altering the DNA they are obtaining.  Thank goodness for the information and clarification! Freak out averted!  No IBC review is necessary. 

But, it’s only day one! There’s still three days of conference left, and therefore, still plenty of time left for my Annual Freak-Out!