Obtaining IRB or IACUC Approval

If your project involves research with human subjects your Project Proposal must address how you will obtain any required Institutional Review Board (IRB) approvals in advance of the project start date. You, with the assistance of your Faculty Mentor, are responsible for determining IRB requirements and securing any required approvals. You may not be able to begin work on your project until these approvals are obtained.

Talk with your Faculty Mentor about what IRB approvals are needed. Your Faculty Mentor should be well versed in what approvals have already been granted and what approval is required for you to engage in the project.

  1. If your Faculty Mentor has an active IRB approval that is related to your Project Proposal, you may not need to do anything, or you may need to assist the Faculty Mentor in preparing and submitting modifications to existing IRB applications.
  2. If your Faculty Mentor does not have an active IRB approval that is related to your Project Proposal, you may need to seek IRB approval for the project. The UW Human Subjects Division’s (HSD) IRB website (https://www.washington.edu/research/hsd/) is designed to walk you through how to identify whether or not you need approval, what kind of approval you need, and how to obtain approval.

If, after talking with your Faculty Mentor, you and your Faculty Mentor are unsure what approval is required:

  1. Work with the Faculty Mentor to contact the office of the IRB that has approved your Faculty Mentor’s research that your Project Proposal is related to. This may be the UW IRB (hsdinfo@uw.edu) or could be another IRB such as Seattle Children’s or Fred Hutch. Ask the IRB office for guidance.
  2. If you have further questions you can contact HSD at hsdinfo@uw.edu to request guidance.

You should seek any required IRB approvals as early as possible and no later than March 1st. Some projects or review situations will require more advance planning.  Examples are:

  • Projects that may require approval from multiple IRBs or the establishing of reliance agreements, such as projects that involve the VA Puget Sound, or that work with tribal populations or involve non-UW institutions such as Seattle Children’s.
  • Projects that involve obtaining new data (for example through interviews) rather than just analyzing existing data.
  • Projects that involve vulnerable or protected populations such as children or prisoners.
  • Projects that involve the use of data from any Washington State Agencies, such as the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

Similarly, if the project involves animal use, this will require approval from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). For projects involving animal use, please discuss with your Faculty Mentor what approval needs to be made for you to engage in your project. For any issues, you may contact the Office of Animal Welfare.

Finally, the University of Washington Human Subjects Board recommends that researchers who are new to research involving human subjects complete training in the basic ethical principles for working with human research subjects. The CITI Program offers a free, 4-6 hour online course appropriate for all research disciplines. If your project will be at another institution, please check with that mentor if CITI training is required in order for you to participate.