Bernard Schwetz to head OHRP

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced the appointment of Bernard A. Schwetz, DVM, PhD, as the director of the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP). Schwetz had served as acting director since February 2003.

OHRP leads the department’s efforts to ensure the protection of human subjects in research. The office monitors programs at more than 10,000 HHS-funded universities, hospitals, and other medical and behavioral research institutions in the United States and abroad.

As director, Schwetz said he will work to maximize the availability of the OHRP staff — and their extensive knowledge — to the research community. This will include an increased presence of OHRP personnel at institutions for activities such as quality improvement within the institution’s human subject protection program. Responding to requests from the research community, he aims to work to provide more OHRP guidance on the interpretation of the HHS regulations.

In bringing a focus to some of the broader aspects of human research protections, Schwetz will develop a public communications program to help assure that subjects in clinical trials have access to and knowledge about their rights as participants. He also will provide information to help educate the general public about opportunities for involvement in research.

Prior to joining OHRP, Schwetz served as the senior advisor for science at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a Distinguished Scientist at the University of Maryland at College Park. He was the acting principal deputy commissioner of the FDA from January 2001 to February 2002, and before that the agency’s acting deputy commissioner and senior advisor for science. He also chaired FDA’s IRB for the protection of human subjects.