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University of Wisconsin–Madison

IRB project aims to reduce administrative burden for research community

In May 2020, the UW–Madison Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) launched a project to implement key changes to UW-Madison Institutional Review Board (IRB) processes. The purpose of these changes is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the UW IRBs and reduce administrative burden for the research community, IRB members, and IRB staff, shorten approval times, and improve the IRB experience overall. The UW–Madison HRPP has partnered with IRB experts from Huron to deliver these changes.

This project, called the IRB Efficiency Project, includes multiple workstreams and almost every aspect of the HRPP will be undergoing changes that align with the project aims.

Key changes of the IEP include:

  • Unification of the IRB offices under one administrative structure to align HRPP-related business processes and accountability under the direction of Gretchen Anding, IRB Director, supported by Assistant Directors, Casey Pellien (Minimal Risk Research team) and Catherine Rogers (Health Science team).
  • A new website to house information for all UW–Madison IRBs.
  • Restructuring of the IRBs themselves, including combining the Educational and Social/Behavioral IRB and Minimal Risk IRB into a single Minimal Risk Research (MRR) board. Both IRBs (MRR and HS) will include “panels,” each meeting monthly, in order to increase meeting frequency and to ensure appropriate expertise for all types of research. The MRR board will have two panels led by Mark Copelovitch from the Department of Political Science (Chair) or one of the two Vice Chairs, Ed Hubbard from Educational Psychology and Kristina Matkowskyj from the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The HS board will have six panels led by Chair Peter Rahko from the Department of Medicine (Cardiology) or one of four Vice Chairs, Donna Blankenbaker (Radiology), Michelle Ciucci (Communication Sciences & Disorders; Surgery), Sameer Mathur (Medicine, Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine) and Rowan Karaman (Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism).
  • Adapting Huron Toolkit documents (e.g. SOPs, checklists, worksheets, templates) for use at UW–Madison. This includes consolidating and streamlining current IRB policies and guidance.
  • Development of a new protocol-based application option (for studies with a stand-alone protocol) in ARROW that is significantly shorter than the current full initial review application and eliminates the duplication so researchers will no longer need to provide the same information in the application that is found in their stand-alone protocols.
  • Creation of RELIANT, the reliance and navigation team, led by Carol Pech, to support investigators engaged in multi-site and collaborative human research and assisting research navigating institutional requirements for human research that stand apart from IRB approval process.

More information about this project can be found on the IEP webpage. If you have questions about these changes, please email