Become an IRB Member

Do you have an interest in biomedical or social science research?

Would you like to be involved with protecting the rights, safety and welfare of individuals who volunteer to participate in research?

If yes, then the volunteer opportunity below may be for you.

Overview

At Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, our faculty, staff, and students in many academic disciplines, across all campuses and in international settings, conduct diverse research that involves human participants (or subjects) or their private information and/or biospecimens.

The Rutgers Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a federally mandated committee that oversees the ethical conduct of human subjects research at all Rutgers campuses, University Hospital (Newark), Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (New Brunswick), and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ).  Rutgers IRB members who are community partners and affiliated faculty/staff play an essential role in this review process and bring diverse backgrounds and experience to the review of research applications.

The Rutgers’ Human Subjects Protection Program (HSPP) is the administrative office that supports the IRB for all Rutgers. The Rutgers IRB specializes in the review of both biomedical and social/behavioral/educational research. The HSPP staff are involved in the initial (pre) reviewing IRB applications, administrative support and scheduling for board meetings, post approval monitoring and education and outreach activities. The HSPP staff also provide initial training and ongoing education for all IRB members and HSPP staff.

What is the role of an IRB Member?

The IRB is charged with review of proposed research protocols to ensure that the rights of human subjects are protected and that risk of harm to subjects is minimized. The framework for protection of human subjects is set in Federal regulations. Committee members ensure compliance with Rutgers policies and procedures, federal regulations, and state and local laws relative to the review of human subjects research studies. This includes ensuring that our unaffiliated community partners have a role on the IRB and can provide their perspective to board decisions about how best to protect research participants no matter where the research is conducted, domestically and/or internationally.

Diverse Membership

In compliance with federal regulations, Rutgers IRB membership is diverse with respect to scientific background and expertise, gender, race, ethnicity, and affiliation. This allows for a better review of research proposals since each member brings unique expertise to the discussion. The board includes members who:

  • Have training in scientific fields (e.g. oncology, pharmacy, sociology, nursing, etc.
  • Do not have a science background or training (i.e. non-scientist members who may have experience in business, law, manufacturing, religious leaders, etc.)
  • Are Rutgers faculty and/or staff (i.e. from any campus)
  • Are not affiliated with the Rutgers (i.e. community partner members)

Community Partner Members

Unaffiliated community partner members play a vital role on the IRB. They bring fresh insight and perspective to board decisions about how best to protect research participants. The Community Member has the responsibility of bringing the perspective of the volunteer research participant to the review of protocols. Community partner members do not have a current affiliation with Rutgers nor have an immediate family member (spouse or child) affiliated with our institution.

IRB Membership

  • IRB members review research proposals in an electronic application system called eIRB. The board discussion is focused on making sure the study design and procedures meet a set of eight regulatory criteria required for IRB approval.  In brief, these criteria are:

    • Research design is sound and study hypothesis is reasonable. Risks to subjects are minimized.
    • Risks to subjects are reasonable in relation to anticipated benefits.
    • Selection of subjects is equitable.
    • Informed consent is obtained or appropriately waived from all prospective subjects and documented.
    • The research protocol includes a plan for data and safety monitoring.
    • Subject’s privacy and confidentiality are protected.
    • Appropriate additional safeguards are incorporated for any vulnerable subjects.
  • To become an IRB member, we ask prospective members to:

    • Email their interest along with a copy of their resume or curriculum vitae (CV) to the HSPP Training & Communications Manager.
    • Make a minimum one-year commitment to serving on the board.
    • Agree to review research; the time commitment is approximately 2-8 hours per month.
    • Attend at least one IRB meeting per month (currently held virtually through Zoom).  Meetings last 1-3 hours and at least 5 members attending each meeting must review study materials in advance to prepare for the discussion.
    • Complete an initial training process and an online IRB Member certification plus receive monthly continuing education activity.
    • Serve on at least one of five IRB panels at Rutgers, reviewing diverse types of research. IRB members typically serve on just one of these boards, but community members may serve on more than one board. There must be a non-scientist member at every IRB meeting.
  • If you are interested in becoming an IRB member:

    • Send your resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV) to the Rutgers HSPP/IRB’s Training & Communications Manager, who will arrange a brief meeting via phone or Zoom/WebEx with you to briefly discuss reviewer requirements and address any questions.
    • We will ask you to observe 1-2 IRB meetings and to complete online training of CITI’s IRB member modules prior to serving as a member of the IRB committee.
    • Members are appointed to the IRBs by the Rutgers Senior Vice President for Research (or their designee).
    • When appointed, we will schedule a New IRB Member Training orientation. During this session, we provide you with a New IRB Member Handbook, eIRB manuals, and regulatory guidance through a 3-hour orientation of the regulations, Rutgers policies, review requirements in addition to how to review human subjects research submissions. This orientation can be scheduled as one or several sessions to fit your schedule.
    • After being trained in our New IRB Member Training program, you are asked to review and comment on the research studies regarding their approvability based on criteria for review. You will determine if the research is conducted in accordance with Federal and State regulations along with University policies and procedures instituted to protect the rights and welfare of human research participants.

Questions?

We are happy to answer your questions about becoming an IRB member. For more information, contact:

Michelle Watkinson, HSPP’s Training & Communications Manager