Who Sits on Institutional Review Boards?

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In this Commonwealth Fund-sponsored study, "Characteristics of Medical School Faculty Members Serving on Institutional Review Boards: Results of a National Survey," the authors surveyed 4,694 faculty members to understand the characteristics of medical school faculty members who serve on institutional review boards (IRBs) in U.S. academic health centers. A total of 2,989 faculty members responded (66.5%). Eleven percent of respondents reported they had served on an IRB in the three years before the study. Of these, 73 percent were male, 81 percent were white (non-Hispanic). Virtually all faculty IRB members (94%) conducted some research in the three years before the study, and, among these, 71 percent reported conducting clinical research, and 47 percent served as industrial consultants to industry. Underrepresented minority faculty members were 3.2 times more likely than white faculty members to serve on the IRB. Clinical researchers were 1.64 times more likely to be on an IRB than were faculty members who conducted nonclinical research. No significant difference was found in the average number of articles published in the three years before the study comparing IRB faculty to non-IRB faculty. The faculty members who serve on IRBs tend to have research experience and knowledge that may be used to inform their IRB-related activities. However, the fact that almost half of all faculty IRB members serve as consultants to industry raises potential conflicts of interest. E. G. Campbell, J.S. Weissman, B. Clarridge et al., Characteristics of Medical School Faculty Members Serving on Institutional Review Boards: Results of a National Survey, Academic Medicine, August 2003, 78(8):831-836

Publication Details

Publication Date:
November 1, 2003

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