About IRB Membership at Penn

This page provides details about IRB membership including the benefits of membership and member expectations.

Benefits of IRB Membership


Penn IRB members are vital to supporting the Penn research enterprise. Membership can contribute to substantial scholarly and professional development. Members frequently cite the following benefits from IRB membership:


  • Expertise in human research ethics and IRB review processes;
  • Facilitation and enhancement of personal research;
  • Experience conducting peer reviews;
  • Exposure to novel investigations and research outside of one’s discipline; and
  • Networking with other faculty


Click below for a memo that serves to highlight the cited benefits of IRB membership, along with recommendations on how to successfully highlight IRB membership to PSOM COAP in collaboration with your department chair.

Membership Expectations


General member expectations include the following:


  • Communicate in a timely manner to your board administrator regarding your availability to attend upcoming meetings. Why? Member presence is used to establish a quorum to determine whether the meeting can be held in accordance with regulatory requirements.
  • Attend and conduct reviews at least 6-8 meetings a year;
  • Commit to a term of at least 1 calendar year;
  • Complete the IRB Member Confidentiality & Conflict of Interest Statement once per year.

Time Commitment


Member time commitment varies depending on membership type but generally between 2 to 6 hours a month, including the monthly meeting itself. The term of membership is renewable. Members may step down or be removed at any time if they are unable or unwilling to fulfill their duties as IRB members.


Meeting Expectations


Members will be provided with a copy of the IRB agenda and access to protocols, informed consent forms, and other supporting study documents prior to the convened meeting. In addition, members will receive expedited review information and the minutes from the committee’s last convened meeting for final approval. Members have the following expectations in regard to IRB Meetings:


  • Review agenda prior to each meeting to be broadly familiar with each protocol being reviewed;
  • Review and present assigned submissions at IRB meetings;
  • Generally, participate in the review of agenda and meeting discussion;
  • Participate in continuing training and education provided by the IRB support staff during the term of appointment;
  • Hold the contents of reviewed protocols and the discussions that occur during the IRB meetings in strict confidence;
  • Review the minutes from the prior meeting each month;
  • Recuse/abstain from deliberation or voting on any study submitted to the IRB in which you or your immediate family has any financial interest as defined in IRB SOP GA 106A
  • Managing Conflicts of Interest: IRB Members, Consultants and Staff.

Yearly Board and Member Evaluations


IRB committee composition and IRB membership is evaluated periodically, as appropriate, by IRB chairs and HRPP senior staff to ensure committee composition meets regulatory and organization requirements. IRB staff meets with the IRB executive chair and director of HRPP, typically once per year, to discuss continuation, performance, training needs and other membership concerns. Member self-evaluation is part of that process. Member self-evaluation occurs in May-June each year via Qualtrics survey. De-identified aggregate information from the self-evaluation surveys is shared with the IRB executive chair, committee chairs, and staff. Individual feedback for members, in the form of corrective action, or compliment, is provided by the chair or IRB staff as changes are needed, or as performance warrants.

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