Communications, Not Citations: An Interview with Glenda Davis

Meet Glenda Davis, assistant director of research compliance at University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. She is highlighted this month as a part of our featured member interviews, which aim to share the experiences of individuals within our membership who are making an impact on the research ethics field through their work.

PRIM&R: When and why did you join the field?
Glenda Davis (GD):
I became involved in research compliance more than nine years ago. It was a natural progression: I had worked almost twenty years in lab research and that sparked my interest by introducing me to regulatory compliance through a researcher’s eyes. I pursued research compliance because it allows me to continue to assist in the advancement of science while incorporating standards that conform to specific requirements.

PRIM&R: What is one tool you use every day that you could not do your job without?
GD: The one tool that I use daily that I could not do my job without is active listening. Active listening is the key to effective communication. It helps me to address concerns not only for researchers but also for the compliance office. By listening to understand questions or concerns, I can utilize my knowledge of the regulations to come up with unique ways to address the problem.

PRIM&R: What is one thing you wish the general public knew about human subject and animal research?
I wish the general public knew that human subject research and animal research is a privilege and not a right. I wish people understood that there is an enormous amount of responsibility that goes along with those persons who agree to perform human subject or animal research and that institutions put a tremendous amount of effort into ensuring that the rights of human subjects and animals are protected.

PRIM&R: What is something you know now that you wish someone had told you when you first entered this field?
Regulatory compliance is a delicate balance. It’s not always about citing what is wrong. Instead, it’s about building relationships. I learned this the hard way. When I first started the job as a monitor, I issued a lot of citations rather than working with researchers to make them aware of deficiencies and the proper ways to correct them. An essential lesson I have learned is the importance of team-building and emphasizing that we have the common goal of building a top-tier compliance program where we work together to establish and maintain compliance for our institution.

PRIM&R: What motivates you to maintain your commitment to advancing ethical research?
I am motivated because I am in a position to help researchers achieve high ethical standards and maintain compliance. By providing the necessary oversight related to compliance, I am able to provide information about regulations and issues regarding the protection of human and animal subjects.

PRIM&R: Have there been any PRIM&R events or talks that you have attended that have made a significant impact on your approach to your work? If so, what were they and how did they influence you?
Our office has received grant funding from PRIM&R to host two Regional Connections meetings on campus. I coordinated the events, and working with PRIM&R and institutions in our region was a wonderful experience. In hosting these events, our university created a broader networking opportunity where many professionals with an interest in safeguarding human research subjects and other best research practices attended (we extended an invitation to human research and IRB professionals with HRPPs within a 200 mile radius of us). The meetings were successful in promoting collaborations and influencing networking among IRBs in the region.

PRIM&R: How has membership in PRIM&R’s community of research ethics professionals helped you to advance in your career or do your job better?
  My membership with PRIM&R has afforded me the most wonderful networking opportunities. I have formed many collaborative relationships with colleagues across the world that I have met while attending PRIM&R conferences. Even beyond the conferences, we reach out to each other to discuss issues that we that we face in our programs and share solutions.

Thank you, Glenda, for your commitment to research ethics and oversight. We’re glad to hear our resources have been valuable to you.

To learn more about membership, visit our website.