Texas Tech University

The IRB and You

By Donna Peters

Texas Tech’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) works with TTU researchers to make sure they are protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects participating in research. To help Texas Tech faculty, staff and students navigate the IRB process, the Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) is beginning a series of articles in Scholarly Messenger to answer questions and inform researchers of changes and/or new programs or policies.

An Overview of IRB/HRPP

The IRB reviews all research activity at TTU involving people. HRPP is the office that coordinates with the IRB. Not every IRB request must be reviewed by the full IRB committee; some are reviewed by one reviewer.

As Texas Tech research has increased, so too have the number of IRB proposals. Right now, there are 1,296 active IRB protocols, up 7 percent from 2012. There were 582 new IRB proposals submitted in 2013 – about 48 new proposals each month – an increase from 522 in 2012. The HRPP’s annual report gives a breakdown of proposals by college.

The IRB is a voluntary university committee composed of 17 members: 12 Texas Tech faculty, two faculty from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and three community members. Each board member volunteers to serve a three-year term. Among the current committee members, there is more than 180 years of combined IRB experience.

In January, TTU faculty submitted 48 new IRB proposals and 82 amendments or extensions to ongoing proposals. Coupled with proposals being revised, these January submissions mean that TTU IRB members are currently working on 228 proposal reviews. It is a big job to serve on the IRB, and a time consuming one.

We hope this monthly column will help make the IRB process easier for faculty, staff and students. In March, we’ll address how to submit an amendment to your approved proposal. Donna Peters is the coordinator for the Institutional Review Board and manager of the Human Research Protection Program.