To kick off Member Appreciation Month, PRIM&R would like to highlight some of our members—individuals who work daily to advance ethical research on a daily basis. Today, we highlight Carlotta Rodriguez, MS, CIP, CHRC, who works as the IRB Director at Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey.
PRIM&R: Tell us about how you got started in the research ethics and oversight field and what motivates you to stay involved?
CR: As with many others who I have met over the years, I ‘fell’ into this field. I started working in the Research Office of New Jersey Medical School and at that time, that office handled both pre-award and IRB submissions. I didn’t know what I wanted to do; I was still in junior college and just figuring things out. With the growth of human subjects research, the institution decided to create a separate IRB office for the entire campus. I enjoyed assisting different investigators in their applications, and I then started to work full-time in the IRB office as a staff assistant.
What motivates me to stay involved in this field is working with a wide variety of investigators in making their vision become a reality, as well as my staff. I enjoy being able to work with people who have an interest in the various types of research that is being done and finding ways to facilitate that vision into a reality.
PRIM&R: What is one tool or resource that you use every day that you could not do your job without?
CR: Most definitely the PRIM&R website. I also receive updates from FDA as well as other chat groups. When I receive updates or notifications about different resources available, I will bookmark it as well as share it with my staff so they also have the resources available to them. This also provides a way for me to continue to mentor my staff to become knowledgeable professionals in this field so they are able to continue to grow.
PRIM&R: Tell us the one thing you wish the general public knew about human subjects research/animal research?
CR: There is definitely a disconnect for the general public between what types of drugs and devices are available to them and how is it determined that these items are safe and effective for their use. It often makes me laugh when I tell someone what I do for a profession and they oftentimes have this blank look on their face. There are those who sometimes will have a general idea, but that is usually from those instances when they may have seen a film or read a story in which research went wrong. We don’t do enough to showcase the studies in which the product worked and that this is something that they are using today.
PRIM&R: What is the professional accomplishment that you are most proud of?
CR: This is a hard one since I am not one who usually toots my own horn. I take great pride in accomplishing all that I have done, such as starting out in a Research Office to now running and managing my own IRB Office. I take great pride in being a role model for not only others but also my two boys. It was a great feeling when I graduated with my master’s degree and my youngest son was there with me and my oldest, who is in the Navy, was able to watch it on the live feed. I also have taken great pride in watching those who have worked with me go on to achieve their dreams and aspirations.
PRIM&R: What is one PRIM&R resource or event you would recommend to another professional in your field?
CR: The field of human subject research has changed so much in the last twenty years and it is going to change even more with the advances that have been made in different areas. I would definitely recommend that those who are new to this field take advantage of the resources that are offered, such as mentorship services and the boot camp sessions. These are areas in which you are able to get up close and personal with others who can provide real case scenarios.