Meet the PRIM&R Blog Squad at the 2013 AER Conference: László Szabó

by László M. Szabó, Esq., Director of the Office of Research Regulatory Affairs at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey 

PRIM&R is pleased to introduce the PRIM&R Blog Squad for the 2013 Advancing Ethical Research Conference. The PRIM&R Blog Squad is composed of PRIM&R members who are devoted to blogging live from our conferences.

Earlier this year I joined Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, as director of the newly created Office of Research Regulatory Affairs. On July 1, Rutgers integrated most of what was the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. In doing so, it inherited two medical schools, a dental school and several centers of clinical and biomedical research. Although most recently I was a litigator with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, some time ago I was the IRB administrator for Rutgers. In that role, I had an interest in human subjects research taking place abroad, and PRIM&R was a source of expert presentations on that topic. It was through those presentations that I became aware of PRIM&R.

Rutgers has expanded from a primarily social-behavioral, engineering, and agricultural research institution to include a robust and diverse portfolio of biomedical and clinical research (and, thankfully, they’ve inherited an expert staff who will continue to oversee such research). The presentations at the 2013 AER Conference will provide me with an excellent opportunity to deepen my understanding of biomedical and clinical research.

An added benefit of such conferences, of course, is the opportunity to meet other professionals that oversee diverse research portfolios at their institutions. Learning how other institutions effectively handle compliance not only works to deepen one’s own understanding of common or best practices in the field, but also helps to demonstrate how much variety there is in the way that institutions deal with compliance matters. When I was the IRB administrator at Rutgers, I met many other administrators at PRIM&R’s conferences and was often pleasantly surprised by the different ways compliance was handled–each achieving full compliance with the regulations. My conversations at the conference lead to my recognition that the regulations (the drafters, really) intentionally gave each institution wide berth to implement their regulatory obligation to protect human subjects. I am sure that I will engage in many similar conversations at the upcoming 2013 AER Conference, much as I did many years ago when I last attended PRIM&R’s annual conference.

I look forward to picking up, from many years ago, conversations along this theme, and meeting new colleagues from other major research universities.