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Support for research success

Not your average institutional review board, MSU Denver’s IRB is a bridge to knowledge creation.

By Cory Phare

June 19, 2018

Person working in a labTalk about institutional research boards at most universities, and you might be met with frustration at the perception of a cumbersome, burdening process.

That’s not the case at Metropolitan State University of Denver, however.

“Thanks to our setup, we’re actually a bridge,” said Lisa Badanes, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and faculty chair of the University’s institutional research board. “We want to enable people to do their research in an ethical, effective manner – and we can help from the very first question.”

Some of the areas the group can help with include protocol definition, research design and optimization. And compared with other institutions, MSU Denver boasts a comparatively accelerated process, said Badanes.

“As an IRB, we’re extremely fast in getting reviews out,” she said. “Most places can take up to three months, where we often turn submissions in a few days.”

Badanes credits an active, engaged review committee for creating a culture of prioritized reviews, including Mike Heathcote, the human-subject program protection manager who helps route the different proposals.

Types of submissions fall into three categories: exempt, which are the majority of submissions, don’t collect identifiable information and are usually turned around in two to three days; expedited, which may collect some potentially vulnerable information and typically take about a week for processing; and full-board reviews, which include areas such as biological or medical studies and should be submitted at least two months in advance to ensure timeliness.

Last year, there were about 150 exempt submissions, 45 expedited and only one that required full-board review. And as Heathcote noted, the MSU Denver IRB provides detailed, specific advice to help prepare proposals if they need to be resubmitted. 

“We encourage people to reach out to us at any point; don’t be afraid to ask questions,” he said. “I’ve gone through the process myself, so I know what it’s like – we’re here to support your research success at every step.”

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