MTP: What Is the Institutional Review Board (IRB)?

Grant applications for research involving human subjects can be very challenging because detailed ethical considerations for how human subjects should be treated have been codified in Federal regulations and State law. This means that researchers must document that their research will be in compliance with multiple detailed requirements.

An Institutional Review Board is a committee, operating under Federal regulations, State laws, and institutional policy, that reviews research involving human subjects to ensure the ethical and equitable treatment of those subjects. The IRB can approve, require changes in, or disapprove research involving human subjects. Internationally, an Institutional Review Board (IRB) is also known as an Independent Ethics Committee (IEC) or Ethical Review Board (ERB).

At UCSF, researchers must receive approval from the Committee on Human Research (CHR), which is UCSF's Institutional Review Board, before conducting research involving human subjects.

Read the Case scenarios: IRB Pitfalls and Solutions for examples of common problems experienced by researchers applying to the CHR and strategies for minimizing delays in the approval process.