OVPRI Human Subject Research Protection Blog

The VCU Human Research Protection Program is dedicated to facilitating ethically and scientifically sound research through robust review of research projects and through effective education and outreach to the VCU research community.

The VCU Human Research Protection Program (HRPP)  is accepting applications from individuals interested in serving as members on the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Read through the FAQs below to learn more about what an IRB is, and how you might fit into it. If you’re ready to apply, follow our application process

VCU Faculty, VCU/VCUHS Staff, and members of the community are all encouraged to apply. Review of applications is done twice a year beginning in May (for a July 1 start date) and October (for a February 1 start date).

What is an Institutional Review Board (IRB)?

An IRB is a group of individuals who are tasked with approving and overseeing research that involves human subjects. Their job is to ensure that the research is carried out ethically, as safely as possible, and in compliance with regulatory requirements. 

Who Serves on an IRB?

IRBs are meant to be representative of the communities they serve, and are required to have diverse membership, including community members who are outside the institution. In addition, IRBs need members with broad ranges of professional and personal experience, in order to provide the expertise needed to understand and evaluate research projects. People with all kinds of backgrounds and experiences are encouraged to apply to serve as a member of the IRB!

What is “Human Subjects Research”? What Kind of Research Does the VCU IRB Review?

Human Subjects Research (HSR) includes any type of research project that involves people or  people’s private information. HSR can include:

  • Clinical trials testing out new drugs for treating cancer
  • Using MRIs and game-like tasks to learn more about how the brain functions
  • Developing new methods to screen and test for diseases
  • Behavioral interventions designed to improve outcomes for individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Community-level interventions to help prevent youth violence
  • Research on educational practices in elementary schools
  • Surveys and interviews with LGBTQ+ youth to learn more about their social needs

And so much more! You can see why a broad range of members is required, because there are a broad range of types of HSR.

What Are IRB Members Asked to Do?

After sufficient training, members are asked to attend at least one meeting per month. Meetings are held at least once a week, and currently take place using the webconferencing software, Zoom (as the pandemic resolves, there may be some meetings held on-campus). Members are assigned one or more research studies at least one week prior to the meeting they plan to attend, and must complete a review of the study, which will be discussed at the meeting. There are also monthly training requirements for members. To learn more about member responsibilities and time commitments, see the IRB Member Application.

Are IRB Members Compensated?

Yes. Members typically either receive professional development funds, or a monetary stipend per meeting attended, depending on the member’s role in the university/community. Parking costs for on-campus meetings may also be reimbursed for community members.

What Do I Do If I’m Interested In Serving as a Member of the IRB?

Complete our application process! Be sure to read the application carefully, so you can understand the requirements of IRB members and the application process, which may vary slightly depending on your role within the university or community.

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