PRIM&R’s 35th Anniversary, Part I

Posted by Joan Rachlin, executive directorThis being PRIM&R’s 35th anniversary, I wanted to take a short stroll down memory lane and kick-off a year-long celebration of our past, present, and future. A warm wash of memories come to visit as I think back over the past three and a half decades. What began as a small band of concerned researchers and research administrators has grown into a 3,305 member strong, internationally respected organization that has provided educational programs and services to over 25,000 individuals, that has influenced institutional, local, and federal research policies, and that has certified nearly 1,200 research professionals via our credentialing process.

As with most success stories, luck, hard work, but mostly, committed individuals are all part of ours. And boy, have we been blessed with committed individuals! In fact, I suspect that almost everyone reading this blog is a member, or has participated in our educational programs, or has earned their CIPĀ® or CPIA credential. PRIM&R’s progress is therefore thanks to each of you, for like the would-be wizard behind the velvet green curtain in the land of Oz, there is no one making magic here at 126 Brookline Avenue. Instead, our organizational growth is a function of the fact that our members, attendees, and other supporters care deeply about ethical research and about the subjects, be they humans or animals, which make that research possible, and they make that commitment concrete through their involvement with PRIM&R.

There was also some luck involved in the organization’s birth and “youth,” in that PRIM&R was “born” the same year that the National Research Act was passed. In this “timing is everything” world, that coincidence afforded us a rare opportunity to participate in the process surrounding the development of both IRBs and, later, IACUCs. This new regulatory structure required a cadre of individuals with keen minds, ethical clarity, and unshakeable professional commitments to make the words in the Code of Federal Regulations apply to the “real world.”

Those who came to our conferences in the early years (and you know who you are!) were searching for answers to the new, multiple, and complex problems that accompanied the new regulations. They became amateur “wrestlers,” as they grappled with the need to balance regulations, guidances, and institutional policies with the needs of research subjects, investigators, and sponsors. In a field that could just as easily have been characterized by a sense of “we-hate-all-this-red-tape-and-so-we-will-get-the-job-done-with-a-minimum-amount-of-effort.” Not this bunch! They were highly principled and equally determined, and although they found precious few answers, they did find a community of new colleagues and friends who doubled as advisers and networkers. An organization was born, and a profession began to grow up around it.

Among those of our founders and other early leaders, I still rely on and cherish the advice of Joe Byrne, Sandy Chodosh, Leonard Glantz, Paula Knudson, and Bob Levine. In future blogs, I will write more about our founders, founding, and about some milestones in PRIM&R’s history. For now, let me simply say “Happy Birthday to US,” as it is truly all of you who have been the yeast which has made us rise. THANK YOU!