If you have an interest in medical or social science research and would like to be involved in efforts to protect the safety and welfare of research volunteers, this may be the volunteer opportunity for you. There are three UI IRBs that oversee biomedical and social science research and research conducted at the Veterans Administration Health Care System (VAHCS). Read more about becoming an IRB member.

Contact the Human Subjects Office to learn more about serving on the IRB:
Phone: 319-335-6564
Email: irb@uiowa.edu

IRB members support the UI Human Research Protection Program and, by extension society, by reviewing study proposals, attending IRB meetings and participating in the oversight of human subjects research. Researchers submit applications to the IRB in an eResearch application system called HawkIRB. The board discussion is focused on making sure the study design and procedures meet a set of regulatory criteria for IRB approval, which include:

  • Sound research design and reasonable study hypothesis
  • Risks to subjects are minimized
  • Equitable subject selection
  • Informed consent is appropriately obtained and documented
  • The research protocol includes a plan for data and safety monitoring
  • Adequate protections of subject privacy and confidentiality
  • Appropriate additional safeguards for vulnerable subjects

IRB members have a front-row seat to see the wide variety of research conducted at the UI, from Alzheimer’s and diabetes to early childhood development and driver safety. At any given time there are more than 4,000 open studies involving human participants.

IRB members are selected to represent a diverse set of experiences, scientific background and expertise, gender, race, ethnicity, identity, and affiliation. Each member brings unique expertise to the discussion which allows for better review of research proposals.

The IRB includes members who:

  • Have training in scientific fields
  • Do not have a scientific background or training (non-scientist members)
  • Are UI faculty, staff, or VAHCS employees
  • Are not affiliated with these institutions (community members)

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is charged with overseeing the ethical conduct of research conducted by UI faculty, staff, and students. The focus of the IRB review is on the protection of the rights, safety, and welfare of the research subjects as well as compliance with federal and state regulations and institutional policies. IRB members include UI faculty and staff members and unaffiliated community members. In compliance with the Federal Regulations for the Protection of Human Subjects, the IRB includes members with scientific and non-scientific background.

Unaffiliated community members play an important role; bringing fresh insight and perspective to board decisions about how best to protect research participants. We typically have plenty of UI faculty and staff members with the expertise needed to review the research proposals. Unaffiliated (Community) members serve to balance the majority of IRB members who are employed by or otherwise affiliated with the University of Iowa.

In the Iowa City area, it is more challenging to find members who are not affiliated with the UI. To qualify as a Community Member, applicants and their immediate family must not be employed by the UI or the VA Health Care System. In addition, applicants:

  • Should have a non-scientific background or training (preferred)
  • Must have the ability to attend IRB meetings once or twice a month
  • Should have an interest in and general aptitude for reviewing research proposals
  • Must complete IRB member training

The non-scientist members counterbalance the abundance of scientific members such that federal regulations require a non-scientist to be present at every convened meeting. They must meet all of the criteria listed above for a community member, but they may be employed by the UI or VAHCS.

  • Minimum of two-year commitment
  • Attend one or two meetings per month on the UI campus (Parking passes are provided for non-UI employees)
  • Complete an initial training process and monthly continuing education activities