The History of PRIM&R’s Conferences

 As we mark PRIM&R’s 50th anniversary, it’s a moment to reflect on the history of PRIM&R’s commitment to hold an annual conference to create community, as research professionals continue their educational and professional growth. 

PRIM&R’s conference is the cornerstone of a commitment to advancing the highest ethical conduct of research. This event brings together constituents in the fields of human subjects research and animal care and use, as well as institutional leadership, to consider complex, challenging, and current issues in the conduct and oversight of research. 

The PRIM&R Annual Conference features programming for those new to their field, as well as seasoned professionals. Attendees from around the globe come together for lively discussions on everything from best practices in research oversight to key ethical concepts. Participants leave energized and better equipped to help their research programs become stronger and more effective. 

The History 
PRIM&R’s first conference on human subjects protections was held in 1977. The research community and federal regulatory agencies quickly embraced the event as an opportunity to discuss the evolving research rules. Subsequent PRIM&R conferences steadily grew in size and reputation. 

In a People & Perspectives interview, PRIM&R’s Founder and first Executive Director, Joan Rachlin, JD, MPH, recounts the establishment of the organization’s inaugural conference. The primary aim of hosting the conference, she explained, was to bring people together “both to share the fruits of their deliberations and their discussions, but also to hear what other people around the country were doing.” 

 “I count that as one of the moments, after the first conference, where we really felt that we had ascended to a new level of credibility,” said Joan. “After ’77, we kept having conferences and they kept growing and they kept attracting the highest level of people both to teach and speak, and to listen.” 

The PRIM&R Annual Conference 
Prior to 2022, PRIM&R held two annual conferences per year: the IACUC Conference and Advancing Ethical Research (AER) Conference, previously known as the IRB Conference and HRPP Conference. The IACUC Conference was designed specifically for animal care and use professionals; IACUC directors, administrators, and members/chair; compliance personnel; veterinarians; researchers; pharma professionals; and institutional leaders. Meanwhile, the AER Conference focused on HRPP/IRB directors, administrators, and members/chairs; researchers; compliance personnel; pharma professionals; and institutional leaders. 

In 2022, PRIM&R consolidated its meetings into a single annual event: the PRIM&R Annual Conference. After an extensive period of research and discussion within our community, the consensus was made that a single annual meeting would better position the organization and its resources, better reflect the trajectory of and evolution of research, allow multiple constituents to talk about research as a whole, and further advance PRIM&R’s mission of advancing ethical research. 

The PRIM&R Annual Conference brings together all those working in research ethics and oversight, regardless of their primary work area, and includes content for institutional leadership. Attendees can attend sessions related to their primary work area or professional role, another area of focus, or crossover sessions that cover topics of importance to all working in research ethics and oversight. The first combined PRIM&R conference took place virtually in 2022, drawing a robust participation of 3,000 attendees. 

SBER Conference 
The first Social, Behavioral, Educational Research (SBER) Conference was held in 2007 as a stand-alone meeting geared toward those working in SBER and continued every four years until 2015. In 2015, the meeting was changed to every other year and in conjunction with the AER Conference, now the PRIM&R Annual Conference. 

As we celebrate 50 years, PRIM&R’s conference history showcases our commitment to evolution and inclusivity. Over the years, we’ve delighted in bringing together our vibrant community from around the world, and we look forward to continuing this tradition at the 2024 PRIM&R Annual Conference (PRIMR24)! We hope to see you in Seattle for PRIMR24 on November 17-20, 2024.