The University of Georgia Institutional Review Board (IRB) has instituted new procedures that streamline the review of human subjects research qualifying for exempt review. UGA recently joined the Flexibility Coalition, a group consisting of major U.S. research institutions and medical centers that has a major goal of identifying “flexibility” measures that institutions can implement in the IRB review to reduce regulatory burden for researchers and/or workload for IRBs without diminishing human subject protections. This flexibility is permitted for an institution that has limited the scope of its Federalwide Assurance (FWA) for the Protection of Human Subjects to federally sponsored research. UGA is one of those institutions, which means that it is allowed a degree of flexibility in the review and oversight of unfunded research involving no risk or no greater than minimal risk to the participants.
As its first flexibility initiative, UGA IRB has approved the addition of two new “Flex” Exempt categories for non-federally funded studies. Also, only certain modifications to exempt research will now require IRB review and approval. These changes are all embodied in the new Policies and Procedures for Exempt Review available at https://research.uga.edu/docs/policies/compliance/hso/IRB-Exempt-Review.pdf.
The Human Subjects Office (HSO) and the IRB are committed to continuously improving our human research protection program and identifying opportunities for flexibility within the IRB review process. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact the HSO Director, Dr. Benilda Pooser at email@example.com or 706.542.3199, or the IRB Chair, Dr. Larry Nackerud, at firstname.lastname@example.org.