The Institutional Review Board (IRB)
The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is an appointed body at California State University Channel Islands under the sponsorship of Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) office, charged with the responsibility to ensure that all research funded or non-funded involving human subjects protects the rights of those subjects. All research that involves any type of interaction with human subjects – from simple surveys to complex biomedical procedures – must be reviewed and approved by the IRB prior to starting the research. Through the process of review and approval, the IRB fulfills institutional obligations for local, state and the federal Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) and exercises ethical human subjects research practices as specified and required by federal regulations. To facilitate that process, IRB also seeks to play an educational role such that all campus community members are aware of and familiar with best human subjects' research practices, and understands collective obligations to the human subjects.
The Origin and Role of IRBs
During the 20th century, as research involving human subjects became more common, there were some appalling instances in which the most basic rights of individuals were violated, and serious harm was done to them. The most infamous examples were the Nazi biomedical experiments during World War II, and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment from 1932 to 1972. While those examples were the most egregious, there were many others which raised ethical questions, and it was clear that some system needed to be instituted to ensure the rights and safety of all human subjects.
In order to develop such a system, the federal government convened a National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects in 1974 to identify core ethical principles for human subjects’ research and to make recommendations regarding their institutionalization. The recommendations of the Commission were presented in 1979 in a document known as the Belmont Report, which became and remains the guiding document for ethical human subjects’ practices. The recommendations of the Belmont Report are codified in federal regulations and requirements that mandate a system of review and approval of all human subjects’ research. That system is organized at the federal level by the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP), and administered locally by IRBs at all institutions. For more detailed information regarding requirements, see the Federal Regulations and Campus Policies page on this website.
Statement of Commitment from the IRB
The IRB recognizes that human subjects review processes introduce an additional step for investigators to commence their research. However, human subjects review processes, are federally required for all institutions engaged in human subject research. The process generally serves a goal on which all involved can agree: Human subjects who participate in any type of research deserve to be treated with the utmost respect for their rights and dignity, and they should be protected from any undue harm during their participation in research. The IRB intends to work with investigators to facilitate the initiation and completion of the important research conducted by our faculty, staff and students. The IRB is committed to guiding investigators in developing their applications and to facilitate the approval process efficiently.