Washington State University has two system-wide Institutional Review Boards to review both biomedical and social/educational/behavioral research; one board meets during the academic year and the other meets for the summer term and for emergency meetings as needed during the academic year. The IRB reviews research projects involving the participation of human subjects to ensure that:

  • Research design is sound and study hypothesis is reasonable
  • Risks to subjects are minimized
  • Risks to subjects are reasonable in relation to anticipated benefits
  • Selection of subjects is equitable.
  • Informed consent is obtained and documented or a waiver of consent, elements of consent or documentation of consent is appropriate.
  • The research protocol includes a plan for data and safety monitoring
  • Subject’s privacy and confidentiality are protected
  • Appropriate additional safeguards are incorporated for any vulnerable subjects

To conduct thorough reviews, the IRB has members with varied expertise and scientific backgrounds, gender, race, ethnicity and affiliation. This allows for a better review of research proposals since each member brings unique expertise to the discussion. Members and alternates serve three-year terms. Members and alternates include:

  • Faculty with scientific or non-scientific backgrounds or training
  • Community members who are not affiliated with WSU outside of their service as IRB members, and are responsible to bring the perspective of a research participant to the review of protocols
  • Physicians
  • Representatives to ensure ethical treatment of prisoners in research studies
  • Representatives to ensure ethical treatment of American Indian/Alaska Native participants in research studies
  • Expert or ad hoc reviewers who are experts in their fields (e.g. data security)
  • Representatives from the WSU Attorney General’s Office to advise on legal requirements

 The composition and duties are established and described in federal regulations and institutional policies.