The three universities in Ohio — Case Western Reserve University, University of Cincinnati and Ohio State University — that are designated as Clinical and Translational Science Award institutions in the state and their partnering institutions have established a statewide collaborative agreement allowing a single organization’s Institutional Review Board, or IRB, to assume IRB responsibilities on behalf of multiple institutions when conducting multicenter studies.
According to the participating schools, the collaborative effort will serve to accelerate research by streamlining human subject protection processes when participating institutions are partnering on research projects requiring IRB approvals. This is the first reciprocity agreement among multiple Clinical and Translational Science Award organizations and encompasses eight legally separate institutions in Ohio.
IRBs, a mainstay at institutions conducting human subject research, are the infrastructure used to protect research study participants. Until now, collaborations across participating institutions required redundant review at each individual institution — a multistep process that the universities said could impede multicenter studies essential to developing new treatments and therapies to improve human health.
The new cross-state IRB agreement expedites research by allowing all Ohio participating researchers to work from the same trial protocol. Ultimately, the universities said, it will foster collaborative efforts among investigators, increase efficiency and reduce regulatory burden on researchers.
“Ohio researchers have come to understand we will get further faster by collaborating with one another. I’m thrilled that we can collectively start this process across the state,” said Dr. Pamela B. Davis, dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at Case Western Reserve University.
“The ability of eight separate institutions to work together is a tremendous example of statewide collaboration,” Dr. Davis said.
This new statewide model is an evolution of the 5-year-old, inter-institutional IRB established at the Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative of Cleveland, which created a unified research network in Northeast Ohio. The implementation of the unified IRB showed immediate success by significantly reducing the facilitated review approval process from two and half months to only four days.