Attending the PRIM&R AER 2014 conference was quite an enriching experience for me . Many of the panels and sessions were interesting in the depth of discussion. I was quite fortunate to participate in the pre-conference workshop entitled “Institutional Review Board Chairs Boot Camp,” where the workshop facilitators discussed tools for successful IRB leadership.
Through my work as a member of the University of Khartoum Medical Campus Ethical Review Board, I had always found that the work of the IRB chair very challenging. It was interesting how the facilitators had reflected on the roles and functions of the IRB chair in selecting the IRB members, moderating interactions and keeping group dynamics without dominating the board. Emphasis had been put on encouraging community members to play an active part in the review process which extends beyond just reviewing informed consent forms.
IRB chairs play pivotal key roles in resolving conflicts of opinion between IRB members as well as conflicts with investigators. The facilitators and participants had shared their experiences giving examples of ways to approach investigators to clarify conflicting points of view.
The IRB chair roles and challenges continue beyond IRB meetings evaluation of the process, resolving disputed issues between IRB and investigators, training of members and staff and pre reviewing the protocols. Although the protocol preview is a shared responsibility between the IRB, sponsor, PI and the institution. The IRB chair has to ensure through that all the information and documents are ready for the review process. The IRB meeting is not the time for information gathering but rather it is a decision making panel and that is why it is important that the chair makes sure that all requirements for the meeting are ready forehand. The pre review ensures the efficiency of the IRB meeting. To ensure efficiency of the process the IRB chair can assign reviews and invite a consultant when a specialist opinion is need in a protocol.
Shaza Abass, BDS, NDB, MSc. PhD.(USA), Orthodontist and Associate Professor, Division of Orthodontics, University of Khartoum, Faculty of Dentistry.