Gratitude and growth: As the IRB evolves, PRIM&R’s there to help educate our members

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

It’s hard to believe it’s been one month since PRIM&R’s 2011 Advancing Ethical Research Conference! I feel so fortunate to have attended the conference as a Blog Squad member. I hail from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria’s (UICOMP) IRB, which serves a whole community, including three hospitals in Peoria.

Seventeen years ago, each of the three hospitals had their own IRBs and submission to each IRB was required if the research was to take place at all three sites. The first IRB director secured a multiple project assurance under which all the hospitals fell as a community. Under this “community” model, the UICOMP IRB became a one-stop-shop for IRB review.

The individual IRBs at the three hospitals collapsed into one university/community IRB with multiple members from each originating hospital. As other research sites began to designate the UICOMP IRB as their IRB of record, individuals from these institutions were invited to serve as IRB members and as members of an advisory board called the Liaison Committee. This model made for a large IRB committee, but one that was truly representative of the community it served.

The majority of the current members of the UICOMP IRB are the original members of the community IRB. We are very lucky to have maintained such a stable membership over time. Nine years ago, we began to ask members to serve as secondary reviewers of new studies. Our members are volunteers and we were very nervous to ask them to take time outside of the meeting to do IRB work. Our members took on the challenge as the current IRB chair stepped down and two members stepped up. Our new chairs attended the PRIM&R conference that first year and have attended every year since.

Our IRB has grown along with our membership: We continue to serve as the IRB of record for the three Peoria hospitals and for multiple Peoria medical offices, a cancer center and their 17 regional sites, a Midwest affiliate of St. Jude, and two hospitals in Galesburg, IL. We also have Authorization Agreements with the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Bradley University.

Our IRB members have gone through the transition to a primary/secondary review system with required documentation, implementation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, required CITI training, adoption of the UPIRSO policy, new conflict of interest reporting requirements, transition to an electronic submission system, and an FDA audit… all as volunteers!

Hopefully, the economy will soon find itself in an “upturn,” and the university will be able to fund attendance to future PRIM&R conferences for our prized IRB members!

I want to thank PRIM&R again for selecting me as a member of the Blog Squad for the 2011 AER Conference.