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Responsibilities of Research Investigations

PI Responsibilities

The IRB holds the PI responsible for the overall management of an approved study.  Management of the study encompasses the ethical, technical, administrative, and fiscal elements of a project.  The PI may delegate certain tasks, but retains ultimate responsibility and accountability.  Principal investigators are required to:

  • Acknowledge and accept their responsibility for protecting the rights and welfare of human research participants, including the equitable selection of research participants, ensuring that risks to participants are minimized, and that the risks are reasonable in relation to anticipated benefits;
  • Fulfill the training requirement for the protection of human participants in research (CITI on-line training modules) to understand the ethical standards and regulatory requirements governing research activities with human participants;
  • Supervise all study personnel and ensure that all personnel abide by the ethical principles of respect for persons, beneficence and justice, as outlined in the Belmont Report;
  • Ensure that all study personnel are knowledgeable of, and conduct the study in accordance with the approved protocol (including approved amendments);
  • Ensure that all research activities have IRB approval and other approvals required by the institution before human participants are involved, and implement the research activity as it was approved by the IRB;
  • Obtain informed consent from participants before participants are involved in the research, and document consent as approved by the IRB.  A copy of the IRB-approved informed consent document must be used.  Participants must be provided with a copy of the form after it has been signed, unless the IRB has specifically waived this requirement.  Documented evidence of informed consent of the participants or their legally authorized representative is to be retained in a manner approved by the IRB.  The consent process involves two required elements: 1) a discussion of the study by the person obtaining consent and the participants, and 2) an opportunity for participants to read the consent form.  Please note that it is never appropriate to forgo the discussion, even if participants will then read the consent form.  Participants must be given the opportunity to have the consent form read to them if they have difficulty reading;
  • Maintain written records of IRB reviews, decisions, research records and informed consent documents;
  • Obtain IRB approval for and notify the sponsor (if applicable) of any proposed change to the research protocol prior to its implementation, except when necessary to eliminate apparent immediate hazards to the participants;
  • Obtain re-approval by reporting progress of approved research (expedited or full board) to the IRB, in the manner prescribed by the IRB, but not less than once per year;
  • Promptly report to the IRB any adverse events, protocol deviations or other unanticipated problems involving risks to participants or others.  PIs should not undertake any action with an external funding agency regarding an unanticipated problem or noncompliance without first contacting the IRB Office in order to determine the correct course of action;
  • Verify that IRB approval has been obtained from all participating institutions in collaborative activities with other institutions, and that continuing review by other institutions is maintained;
  • Ensure the confidentiality and security of all information obtained from and about human participants, and the privacy of participants is maintained;
  • Use the most current version of IRB forms and document templates, which can be downloaded from the forms and templates page;
  • Oversee the budget and expenditures related to the study to ensure that adequate resources are available, including staff, equipment supplies, storage space etc., to conduct the study at the University and any other performance site for which the PI is responsible; and
  • Conduct the study in compliance with internal policies and regulations including 45 CFR 46 – Protection of Human Participants.

Responsibilities of All Key Personnel

The IRB holds all study personnel responsible for meeting certain obligations.  Study key personnel are required to:

  • Fulfill the training requirement for the protection of human participants in research (CITI on-line training modules) if they are actively involved in the consent process or interacting with the subjects;
  • Understand the ethical standards and regulatory requirements governing research activities with human participants;
  • Comply with applicable IRB policies and procedures;
  • Document contact with participants, e.g., obtaining informed consent or informing participants of changes that may affect their willingness to continue participating,
  • Provide a thorough explanation of the study in lay terms to the participant during the consent process;
  • Provide the participant with an opportunity to ask questions and have them answered when obtaining informed consent and throughout their participation;
  • Understand the appropriate use of the investigational intervention(s) as described in the protocol; and
  • Be familiar with and follow the adverse event reporting requirements
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