Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) regulations require that institutions conducting research activities on humans and receiving federal funds must appoint a specialized review and oversight committee called the institutional review board (IRB). The IRB is mandated by the federal law 45 CFR 46—Protection of Human Subjects. The IRB system is a direct result of the need to provide structure, review, oversight, and public accountability for federally funded research activities involving humans as subjects. The overarching responsibility for IRBs is to protect the rights and welfare of persons recruited as human subjects in research conducted in the affiliated institution. While fortunately somewhat rare, questions about human subjects protections can become prominent news items, and science communicators should be familiar with the basic requirements; university-based ...

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