Librarians as participants on Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

Carlos Rodriguez, a librarian at the Biomedical Library, has served as a highly valued Penn IRB member for several years. Under FDA regulations, an IRB is an independent committee that is responsible for reviewing all human research studies to ensure the rights, welfare, safety, and privacy of participants. IRBs are required to have at least one member who is a non-scientist and, as once reported in the newsletter, IRB Advisor, IRBs “may have to look no further than its own institution’s medical library” to recruit non-scientist members.

Carlos Rodriguez

The University of Pennsylvania has eight IRBs, which meet monthly, to review studies on topics ranging from general medicine to social science and behavioral research. Sitting on the General Medicine IRB has enabled Carlos to glimpse the scope of research being done at Penn and gain insight into the medical research process, which can inform his work as biomedical librarian. And, the IRB gains a dedicated member who can bring expertise in literature searching, attention to detail, and a critical outside perspective. As medical librarians are increasingly active in promoting health information literacy, they can take a fresh look at documents such as consent forms to make sure they are readily understandable to the general public.

To learn more about librarians as IRB participants, contact Carlos Rodriguez at

Categories: Services

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