The Institutional Review Board has appointed College of Medicine fixed-term faculty member Leaden Hickman to serve as interim coordinator following leadership changes earlier this month.
In accordance with federal requirements, the board was created to oversee institutional research at Central Michigan University, specifically research involving human experimentation.
“In the review process, we look at ethical concerns, scientific validity and legality,” said Vice President of Research and Sponsored Programs John McGrath. “The board ensures that humans see no harm in the process of institutional research.”
The coordinator position is generally reserved for board members with the highest level of expertise. According to the news release, Hickman was appointed to join the other 18 board members due to his experience in social, behavioral and biomedical fields.
Hickman is a course director for society and community medicine in the College of Medicine. He has held faculty positions at Wayne State University, University of Michigan and Oakland University. Hickman’s experience also includes a Ph.D. and a Master of Science degree in epidemiology and community medicine from Wayne State University.
“It’s important to have people from diverse backgrounds,” McGrath said. “There’s likely to be an increase in human experimentation with the addition of the medical school. (Hickman) was a good choice, because it allows for greater representation from the medical school.”
According to section 5-4 of CMU’s administrative policies, under procedures and guidelines, the IRB has full jurisdiction over all human subject research conducted under the auspices of CMU, regardless of the funding source or performance site.
McGrath said the IRB handles more than 400 requests for experimentation over the course of the year. It is unclear how many of these requests are approved during any given year.
“Faculty members can submit a request for approval, and it has to be run past the board to detect any concerns,” McGrath said. “If concerns are found, then obviously approval cannot be given.”
According to McGrath, it is not just faculty members that are submitting these applications; a large number of students are also getting involved in the process of research and experimentation.
“What we are finding is that a lot of these applications are coming from students,” McGrath said. “That’s important, because it speaks to increasing involvement from the student body. It’s not just staff members conducting these types of experiments.”