Group OKs U human studies

The institution is one of nine worldwide to be accredited for research on people.

by Geoffrey Ziezulewicz

Whether conducting psychological evaluations or testing new drugs, the University protects its human research subjects.

That was the finding behind Tuesday’s announcement that The Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs has accredited the University.

The association is a nonprofit organization that evaluates institutions that conduct research using human subjects.

Since its inception in 2001, nine institutions worldwide have received accreditation.

The University is the second school to receive the accreditation, said Todd Bentsen, the association’s assistant director of marketing and communication.

To receive the designation, the association reviewed all aspects of University research that involves humans, Bentsen said.

“We examined the sum total of what the University does to make sure participants are adequately protected,” he said.

The University first submitted a self-assessment application, he said. Then officials from the association visited and completed their own evaluations.

Accreditation means institutions such as the University are in full compliance with guidelines issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the two main governmental bodies the University deals with regarding research.

Bentsen said hospitals, schools and other organizations benefit by tightening up their human subject policies, even if they have done nothing wrong.

“It is not that they are doing the wrong thing, but they need a clear way to demonstrate that,” he said. “It may sound a little administrative, but it is extremely important.”

Moira Keane, director of the University’s Research Subjects’ Protection Programs, said the University was already part of some of the founding organizations in the association, such as the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Ensuring human subjects are treated properly is important to the University, she said.

Regulatory bodies such as the University’s Institutional Review Board have been in place since the 1960s.

But problems arose at the University and other schools in the 1990s regarding the treatment of human subjects, Keane and Bentsen said.

This accreditation has helped show that the University takes human subject concerns seriously and protects its subjects, Keane said.

“It is a challenge for the University to demonstrate to the University, its sponsors and the public that we appreciate the need for a strong integrated program, and that at every step we are protecting people in our research projects,” she said.