Five first steps

The University committee charged with reviewing Penn’s research on human subjects has identified five things Penn can do right now to improve its methods, including requiring researchers to disclose conflicts of interest and hiring outside monitors for research projects whose funding does not provide for them.

In an interim report issued April 25, the Committee on Research Using Humans also recommended a comprehensive review of Penn’s institutional review boards (IRBs), the drafting of formal standard operating procedures for human research projects, and a Web-based survey of research project investigators.

“We felt it was important to get some interim steps out, to get these processes rolling,” said Ralph Amado, vice provost for research and a member of the committee.

More than 3,900 research projects involving humans are currently under way at Penn. Amado stressed that every one of these projects requires approval in advance. “You need to get IRB approval even if you want to ask people what they ate for lunch in a scholarly way,” he said.


Originally published on May 4, 2000