The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a request for comments on a draft policy concerning Institutional Review Boards (IRB). The NIH proposes allowing multi-site research studies to use a single IRB for approval. The idea is that concentrating the human subjects review approval to one IRB would reduce the administrative burden. It is even possible that a single IRB review for multi-site research might increase protections by focusing the oversight to a single body.
Comments are accepted on the policy through January 29, 2015.
This draft policy reflects changes proposed in 2011 when the Department of Health and Human Services proposed changes to the Common Rule – the suite of regulations on oversight of human subjects research. IRB approval is just one facet of those changes, so maybe there are additional policy proposals coming. Even in today’s dysfunctional environment, 3 years is a long time to wait.