Penn State investigators conducting research with people — whether surveys or clinical trials, secondary data analysis or educational interventions — work with the University's Institutional Review Board (IRB) Program. The IRBs work to protect the rights and welfare of research participants and ensure that Penn State research meets all applicable regulations.
Penn State has centralized oversight responsibility of the University’s IRBs with Candice Yekel, associate vice president of research and director of the Penn State Office for Research Protections. With this centralization, the Human Subjects Protection Office (HSPO) at the College of Medicine now reports to Yekel.
“Penn State strives for continuity across the Commonwealth Campuses," said Yekel. "By standardizing our reviews, researchers will better know what to expect — whether they’re conducting their research at the College of Medicine, Penn State Health and its components, or University Park. This change for the IRB programs furthers our mission to provide excellent service to our researchers and our research participants."
While there will be changes in organizational structure in the HSPO in the coming months, this transition should not significantly impact investigators. As institutional official, Yekel has appointed Wayne Patterson, consultant from HRP Consulting, as the HSPO interim director. A search for a permanent director will soon be underway. Kathy Hay continues to serve as the IRB program director, and Rebecca Hale is HSPO assistant director.
“The majority of changes will be behind the scenes, so researchers don’t need to do anything in response. That said, I welcome any feedback, and researchers are always welcome to contact us with questions,” add Yekel. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to Yekel, this change further forwards Penn State’s goal to be “one university, geographically distributed."