Learning the Hard Way: An Interview with Maureen T. Greene

In this month’s installment of PRIM&R’s featured member interviews, we hear from Maureen Greene, a longtime PRIM&R member working in human subjects and animal research. This series is intended to let our community get to know our membership and hear about the impact they make through their daily work. Read on to hear from Maureen!

PRIM&R: When and why did you join the field? 
Maureen Greene (MG): I joined the field of research in 1985 when I had the inquiring mind to ask: Why? Early in my nursing practice I had the opportunity to see advanced practice clinical specialists in action. These advanced nurses were using scientific evidence to change the recovery, care, and outcomes of the patients they served. I went back to school to for a Master of Science degree; my thesis was my springboard to understanding research and human subjects protections. Now, many years later, I have my PhD and work with students, staff, and peers to develop quality projects, translate research into practice, test implementation science, and provide guidance and analysis of research studies to add new knowledge to the care of patients.

PRIM&R: What is one tool that you use every day?
MG: I am dependent on my computer now! Sure in the past we had paper files; ah, but the beauty of the electronic files, email, webinars, library service searches, and the ability to find professional support of best practice and to track and connect with scientists, thought leaders and agencies to enhance professional service in research ethics, and patient care.

PRIM&R: What is something you believe the general public needs to know about human and animal subjects research?
MG: Human subjects and animal research is a necessarily rigorous method to find out about the world we live in. It focuses on looking at variability within the context of research control. Ethics in research is concerned with activities’ and projects’ ethical soundness; looking at issues such as the management of risk, protection of confidentiality, and the process of informed consent.

PRIM&R: What is something you know now that you wish someone had told you when you first entered this field?
MG: When asked to be a reviewer on an IRB proposal and application, read the entire protocol and the entire addendum. The missing elements like vulnerable populations, HIPAA, and confidentiality may be hidden in an addendum. You have been asked [to review] because of your scientific, professional, or community skills related to the submission—it is your job to be thorough.

PRIM&R: What motivates you to maintain your commitment to advancing ethical research?
MG: I am pleased to be involved in the protection of human subjects for the full review of the science, the consent, the ethics, and the protections offered to the subjects in the study. This is a privilege to learn about how science informs practice change and how the science can change the course of disease and illness or promote the better understanding of the experience of healthcare.

I am more excited about the aspects of quality improvement review in local IRBs to ensure that interventions are not impinging on patient rights in participation in studies. Kudos to IRBs with a strong oversight in the use of internal and available subjects for “study,” quality improvement may actually be “research”!

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?
MG: PRIM&R AER conferences were unique to my prior experience with professional conferences. The varying participation of lawyers, pharmacists, large company owners, researchers, IRB professionals, and academic professors in one place offered a new lens to look at ethics in research. I particularly enjoyed hearing young professors describe the way they teach and develop young scientists. The use of think tanks, strategy courses, and meetings gave me a new view of the inter-professional team approach to problem solving in research design.

PRIM&R has also given me the opportunity to position myself as a researcher in my organization and among my peers and professional groups. I am consulted for the knowledge and experience I have in research design, analysis, and dissemination. I hope to continue to use this professional connection to solidify my professional career options in these times of change health care.

Thank you, Maureen, for your commitment to PRIM&R and to your field! We are honored to have members like you among our ranks. To learn more about membership, visit our website.