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Information for Prospective Committee Members

Prospective IRB Member Flyer

This page is designed to answer questions that individuals interested in joining the UCSD IRB as a committee member might have about what an IRB does, what its members do, and what it looks like to be a member of the UCSD IRB. This page is structured in a Q&A format. If you don't see an answer to a particular question you have, please feel free to contact us at any time at


What role do IRB members play?

IRB members review human subjects research before it begins and while it is ongoing to ensure that research studies comply with federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and policies on the safe and ethical practice of research involving humans. In addition to these compliance related functions, IRB members are also charged with holding research studies to the three ethical principles of the Belmont Report: Beneficence, Justice, and Respect for Persons.

How many and what types of IRB committees does UCSD have?

The UCSD Office of IRB Administration (OIA) currently runs and supports six different IRB committees. There are two general biomedical committees (A & C), a social and behavioral committee (S), a neurosciences committee (B), a pediatrics committee (D), and an oncology committee (O).

Who serves as an IRB member?

IRB membership is composed of a diverse group of individuals. Regulations require that each committee have at least five members. Among those members must be at least one person with a scientific background, one person with a non-scientific background, and one person unaffiliated with the institution. Committees should be composed of people from a diverse array of genders, races/ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds to allow the committee to better safeguard the rights and welfare of human subjects.

What role does each type of member fulfill?

A member may fulfill one or more of the below roles (e.g. a non-scientific member who is unaffiliated with the institution).

Scientific Background

  • These members perform a scientific review of studies in the scientific area(s) for which they have expertise. They speak to whether the studies are designed to answer their hypotheses, employ appropriate procedures to ask the question in the least risky way, and opine on whether the study is likely to realize the benefit (either to society or the subjects) that is envisioned by the researcher.

Non-Scientific Background

  • These members focus their review on the comprehension and acceptability of the study to a lay audience. They ensure that consent forms are understandable and readable by the general population, that the procedures envisioned in the study respect the subject’s autonomy as a person, and that the study is not unfairly burdening one or more groups.


  • These members review the study from the perspective of a person volunteering as a subject in a study. They provide insight into what subjects might expect or consider when deciding to participate. They also speak to the larger community perspective on the research being conducted.

Representative for Vulnerable Populations

  • In addition to reviewing as a scientific or non-scientific member, these members have experience with or are members of the vulnerable population. They review studies from the perspective of the vulnerable population to ensure that there are adequate protections for these subjects. Vulnerable populations that the UCSD IRB sees include children, cognitively impaired adults (either permanently or by virtue of the condition under study), pregnant subjects, prisoners, and staff/students/faculty of the University.

How often are committee meetings and when and where do they occur?

Committees A, B, C, D, and S meeting once a month at the following times:

  • A – 2nd Thursday of each month at 5 pm
  • B – 3rd Thursday of each month at 5 pm
  • C – 4th Thursday of each month at 4 pm
  • D – 1st Thursday of each month at 12:30 pm
  • S – 1st Tuesday of each month at noon

Committee O/P meets twice a month at the following times:

  • 2nd Thursday of each month at 2 pm
  • 4th Thursday of each month at 5 pm
All meetings are held remotely via the Zoom platform. Dates and times are subject to change based on holidays and the preference of the committee. Additionally, meetings may be canceled if no items for review have been received and are ready for the committee.

What is required if I want to become a member?

  • Members should plan to commit to at least one year on a committee.
  • Members agree to attend at least two-thirds of the meetings every six-month period (i.e. 4 out of 6 [A, B, C, D, and S] or 8 out of 12 [O/P]).
  • Each meeting requires about 4-6 hours of the member’s time (i.e. 1-2 hours for the meeting plus review and preparation time prior to the meeting).
  • Occasionally provide support out-of-committee to OIA staff on areas related to your expertise.
  • New members are given an initial training by OIA staff to prepare them for their role. They also observe 1-2 meetings before being asked to review.
For more information, answers to questions, or to volunteer on a committee, contact our office at