Thank you for taking the time to explore our website and discover the many services that the Pitt IRB provides to researchers. The mission of our IRB is ‘to protect and serve’ – to protect the children and adults who participate in research at the University and at UPMC, and to serve the community of scholars who conduct these research studies. We take those responsibilities very seriously, and strive to not only conduct thoughtful and thorough reviews of each research application – with a focus on risks and benefits, but to also provide ongoing support to investigators and their staff to facilitate the preparation of IRB applications and consent forms.
We have several educational initiatives that our research community needs to be aware of. We will work one-on-one with new (and not so new) investigators, and can arrange meetings in our offices, or at the investigator’s research space – both to help navigate our on-line submission system (OSIRIS), and to prepare IRB applications. At the request of an investigator, we can develop training programs for their staff, fellows, and students who are conducting, or learning to conduct, human subjects research. We have regularly scheduled ‘Ask the IRB’ sessions that focus on new initiatives as well as on topics that may be of interest to the research community at large. We have implemented a web-based process whereby specific questions can be forwarded to the IRB for a response within 24 hours. Questions about OSIRIS, training, or IT support can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org, whereas general questions and consultations can be addressed at email@example.com. Alternately, we encourage investigators to pick up the phone (or drop an e-mail) to a staff member for a quick consultation; we gladly make ‘house calls’!
In an effort to both improve the quality of submissions to convened committees and at the same time reduce the overall ‘turnaround’ time to approval, we are beginning to implement a detailed pre-review of each application prior to its assignment to a convened committee. It is our hope that we can reduce the current time to approval for these more than minimal risk studies from a median of 54 days to something closer to 30 or 35 days.
We understand that the changing landscape in regulatory oversight often requires investigators to obtain input from the IRB prior to submitting a grant application or a journal article. As investigators ourselves, we are happy to consult with our research colleagues to help craft solutions that will protect study participants and at the same time be compliant with extant regulations and policies. We hope you will have an opportunity to get to know us, our superb professional staff, and the more than 140 faculty and community members who volunteer their time to protect human subjects and facilitate research.