Friday, December 1, 2023

The Office of the Vice President for Research, working with the Human Subjects Office, has launched a new IRB Efficiency Initiative to streamline IRB review procedures. The effort is focused on being competitive with peer institutions’ average processing times for research applications while maintaining regulatory compliance.

“Through this initiative, we are taking a look at our processes and workflows to see where we can reduce bottlenecks and improve communication among all partners,” said Marty Scholtz, vice president for research. 

Details about the new initiative, including a timeline and project roadmap, are available on the IRB Efficiency Initiative website. Principal investigators, research team members, and administrators will receive regular updates about the progress and have opportunities to attend monthly information sessions.

Role of IRBs

The UI’s four Institutional Review Boards (IRB) are in place to minimize risk to people engaged in research and assure adequate protections of their rights and welfare. Their existence dates back to the National Research Act of 1974 and the subsequent Belmont Report, which established the ethical principles for acceptable human subjects research.

“The IRB’s role is critical in protecting research subjects, the institution, and individual researchers,” said Jennifer Lassner, associate vice president for research. “At the same time, our teams are dedicated to upholding integrity, ensuring quality, and providing customer service to our campus community. We look forward to identifying opportunities for meaningful process improvements that will help us meet the goals of this initiative.”

First steps

The OVPR has already engaged an independent consultant to conduct a thorough external evaluation of the IRB process, with the following goals in mind:

  • Determine opportunities for process improvements to address the goals of increasing efficiency and decreasing processing time from submission of the application to release of approval

  • Identify meaningful opportunities for change that could address the following goals:
    • provide long-range planning for shifts in the research landscape
    • increase researcher satisfaction
    • increase competitiveness for acquiring research funding
    • assure the highest-quality protections for human subjects

Questions about the new initiative can be directed to