From the Director: PRIM&R’s Strategic Plan

Elisa Hurley

In February, PRIM&R began implementing its latest Strategic Plan. While we have had several such plans in our 40-plus year history, this plan is especially important in my mind. 

Research is fraught with a number of pressing issues today:  Rapid changes in research technologies and methodologies; rising concerns about privacy and the use of big data; tighter research budgets; the growth of patient- and public-centered approaches to research; ; the movement toward single IRBs—to say nothing of the impending impact of a new Common Rule, should one be announced—all make for a dynamic research landscape.

You can read more about PRIM&R’s Strategic Plan on our website, but for now I want to present the rationale behind our strategic priorities, and invite your comments.

Education has always been at the very core of what PRIM&R does, an endeavor for which we have long been recognized for excellence.

As we envision a future of consistent improvement in the caliber of research, where those involved have a greater understanding of the ethical issues involved, increased flexibility in identifying and adapting to changes in research methods and societal expectations, and enhanced capacity to apply best practices in their daily work, PRIM&R’s role in disseminating knowledge will be of even greater importance.

To meet the evolving needs of the field, we intend to build from our strengths and provide our constituents timely, responsive educational programming that incorporates best practices around adult learning and utilizes the most current technologies.

What forms would you like to see this education take?

PRIM&R recognizes that research and ethical oversight continue to evolve. Barriers, such as a complex and slow-to-change regulatory structure, an emphasis on compliance at the expense of ethical principles, and a lack of time and resources dedicated to incorporating best practices, stand in the way of advancing good, ethical research.  Moreover, we understand that stakeholders in the research enterprise benefit from sharing knowledge, learning about best practices, and engaging with the challenging ethical issues that arise in our field. PRIM&R intends to identify these barriers and knowledge gaps, and, collaborating with relevant partners to address these barriers, develop projects and produce products that help to create new paths to learning and thereby support the field’s needs.

What gaps do you see in your knowledge, or in the knowledge of others in your research enterprise?

With our depth of knowledge and expertise in educating oversight committees and others in the research field, the research oversight community already looks to PRIM&R for guidance about public policy issues involving research with human subjects and animals. We recognize that, given our reputation and expertise, we are well positioned to broaden our thought leadership role.  To help transform the field and advance better laws, policies, and practices, over the next five years PRIM&R intends to actively engage a variety of stakeholders in the research enterprise, including industry and the public, and use that influence to align common interests in promoting excellent and ethical research.

On what areas of public policy – including legislation – do you believe PRIM&R should focus?

PRIM&R has been recognized for the strength and capacities of our staff, board of directors, members, and volunteers. To reach our ambitious vision for the future, we understand the need to invest in our own organizational development. Over the next five years, we intend to promote best practices for human and financial resource development, governance, brand recognition, and adaptive capacity in order to be in the best position possible to sustain current activities and to implement strategic growth.

Do you have any thoughts about PRIM&R’s operations, board structure, membership model, etc. that you’d like to share?

As always, thank you for being part of the PRIM&R community.  We hope you’ll think about the questions raised above, and either comment below or send thoughts to us via email.