It’s starting to feel less strange attending PRIM&R virtually rather than in person, and I’m not sure I like that I’m getting comfortable with that! This would typically be the time when I’m getting excited about seeing friends and colleagues again. PRIM&R’s Annual Conference is some of the few days each year when everybody agrees that federal regulations are somehow appropriate for dinner conversation, I tried to steer the conversation that way at Thanksgiving, and it did not go well. Even though I wish we would get to see each other in person this year, I’m proud to be a part of an organization that has demonstrated its commitment to the idea that people should be treated with respect. And there are some genuinely great things about virtual conferences that I’m keeping in mind: I get to sleep in my own bed, I can spend time with my wife and our thoroughly mediocre cat in the evenings, and I may just continue the practice of pretending that pajama pants are work clothes. Plus, there’s no worry about choosing only one session in each time slot! There are so many on-demand sessions available that I don’t have to worry about missing out. I am going to miss the exhibit hall candy, though.
Since I primarily work with SBE researchers, most of the sessions of the most interest to me are on that path. Right now, these are the live sessions that I’m most looking forward to hearing and why:
“A04 - Categorical Conundrum: What Is the Tipping Point for Non-Exempt SBER Needing Convened Review,” I think this will be an interesting session for those accustomed to reviewing SBER-hearing what other institutions feel crosses the line is sometimes surprising and sometimes reassuring. I’m eager to hear some of the rationales for sending minimal-risk research that fits into the expedited categories to a convened meeting. This could also be an excellent session for anybody who is primarily used to thinking about biomedical research and hasn’t had to deal with the often-nebulous risks of SBER.
“B01 - May I Borrow a Tissue? Secondary Use of Biological Samples” This is hands down my favorite session title in the conference. The ability to reidentify samples keeps getting easier, so this topic is always worth checking out. The addition of Broad Consent in the 2018 revisions seems to have been intended to mitigate some of the ethical concerns of using remnant samples, but since most of us are at institutions that aren’t making use of that, this is always an interesting ethical quandary.
“C05 - The Use of Social Media in Research: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” Social media research is almost always a contentious topic, so any session offering guidance on applying the regulations, and ethical considerations, to the collection of this data is bound to be interesting There is a lot of disagreement in our field as to whether or not using public social media data is human subjects research (it is). If this session were in person, I think we’d have a lively debate amongst the audience to look forward to, and hopefully, we’ll still get that online.
“D03 - Communication in Minimal Risk Research Using Waiver of Consent” This sounds like a great session. Previous conferences have had plenty of sessions about waivers and when they are or are not appropriate. It’s refreshing to see a session that doesn’t treat consent as an all-or-nothing scenario but explores the ethical and practical ramifications of alterations to the required elements. I’m really only used to modifications of the elements of informed consent when part of studies that involve deception, so I really want to hear about other scenarios where the presenters think it’s appropriate and which elements they say can be left out.
“E03 - “Do Not Take if You Are Pregnant”: Demystifying the Inclusion of Pregnant Participants in Research” Hearing about ways to explore flexibility in Subpart B will be great to hear. As an SBE reviewer, I’m used to having to talk researchers out of excluding pregnant individuals, but it’s much more difficult for my biomedical colleagues since that’s where this subpart is truly restrictive.
Casey Mumaw, CIP, Assistant Director, IU HRPP
Office of Research Compliance, Indiana University.
Casey has been working in the IU Human Subjects Office since 2011, and first earned his CIP credentials nine years ago. At IU, his role includes serving as an IRB member, supervising HRPP staff who review SBER submissions, and serving as a member of office leadership. He regularly provides training and presentations to researchers and has presented at both PRIM&R's AER and AAHRPP's annual conference.