Who's on first? Time for an IRB member roster

An efficient way to track IRB data

If your IRB office is well-organized, but IRB member information is dated and difficult to track, then it's time for a simple electronic solution: an IRB member roster.

The Office for Human Research Protection (OHRP) requires IRBs to file an electronic IRB member roster file, but one research institution has found that it's also helpful to have your own electronic roster.

An electronic IRB roster can reduce IRB staff work by making some information available on the IRB's Web site and by keeping updates simple and fast.

The OHRP roster requests some basic IRB member information, while an internal board roster can be expanded to include additional data, such as updated curriculum vitae, IRB position, meeting availability, contact information, and more, says Charlotte H. Coley, MACT, CIP, director of the IRB educational programs at Duke University in Durham, NC.

"We have a memo field where we can put in miscellaneous information," Coley adds. "Our staff uses this to put in that an IRB member is trading meeting dates with someone else and other news about members."

Duke University has grown to include more than 200 IRB members on nine boards, including one rapid response board that meets only when there's an emergency need.

The electronic roster uses Microsoft Access software for its database, which tracks all necessary IRB member information, Coley says.

"We grew from 50 IRB members to 240 over the last 10 years, and it gets mind-boggling," she says. "It became more than a fulltime job just to keep up with the board members' activities."

The database makes much of that work automatic and more efficient.

Here are some of the advantages and ways it works:

• Collect all necessary information about each board member: The database includes each board member's curriculum vitae, along with the date the CV was submitted.

This way if it's been two years since a board member has updated his or her CV, the database will generate a report, and an IRB staff member can send out an email to IRB members as reminders about updating their CVs, Coley says.

The database also includes each board member's telephone numbers, emails, professional positions, assigned IRB, credentials, date joined the IRB, degree, department, appointment, designations, orientation and training status, etc., she adds.

• Create master membership list: "The database generates a list of orientation reports, showing me for each month who joined an IRB," Coley says. "It's a rolling report so I can quickly add up how many people have been through orientation."

From this, Coley makes a master membership list that can be converted to a PDF format and posted on the IRB Web page.

"So if anyone gets a request from a sponsor for the IRB list, then they can download this PDF," she adds. "This cuts down on the phone calls coming into the IRB requesting the information."

The master list also can be used to track the members' years of service on boards.

Duke University uses this information to provide members with service awards for one year, three years, five years, and multiples of five years, Coley says.

"Each month we give out certificates stating their (milestone) year of service and thanking them," she says. "We also give them a little brass lapel pin."

This makes it easy to track those milestone events and manage a recognition program that is aimed at encouraging IRB members to continue serving, she adds.

"It's a very inexpensive way to generate a lot of good will," Coley says.

• Keep data at fingertips in event of audits or other needs: "As new members start on an IRB, we put their information in the database," Coley says. "If an auditor comes in we can access an IRB member report with the push of a button."

• Generate reports on voting and attendance: IRB staff keeps a voting log at each IRB meeting, and this information can be accessed easily.

"It generates a lovely spreadsheet that lists everybody, the agenda number, items on the agenda, and how members voted for these," Coley says.

The database also can generate a "will attend" sheet that is circulated at each meeting. When members answer with their plans to attend or not to attend, the IRB staff can check the attendance roster to make certain they have a quorum and the right mix of board members.

"You need to know who is coming to the meeting so you can make assignments to them to be primary reviewers for that meeting," Coley explains. "Also, if you need a pediatrician for a particular protocol, and the board's pediatrician member isn't planning to be present, then you can find an alternate IRB pediatrician or assign that protocol to another board."

• Use internal roster to update OHRP roster: "Unfortunately, we couldn't link our database to OHRP's because it created security risks," Coley says. "So now we have to manually create a roster for each of our boards and make changes to the OHRP roster."

The university's own IRB member roster is treated as the master list, and it's used when updating OHRP's information.

"We submit to OHRP monthly," Coley says. "We tried to submit quarterly to OHRP but we found it took us two weeks to collect the information and to make sure all the changes were done correctly."

The IRB office now generates a paper IRB member report that lists all board members by the board to which they are assigned, and this is compared with OHRP's roster list, she explains.

"We go into OHRP's list to make changes and double check that we've caught everything that has happened since the last update," she adds.