The Office of Human Research Ethics (OHRE) is responsible for ethical and regulatory oversight of research at UNC-Chapel Hill that involves human subjects. The OHRE administers, supports, and guides the work of the Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and all related activities. Any research involving human subjects proposed by faculty, staff, or students must be reviewed and approved by an IRB before research may begin, and before related grants may be funded. OHRE and the IRBs are critical components of the coordinated Human Research Protection Program, which serves to protect the rights and welfare of human subjects. All components of this program must work together to ensure institutional compliance with ethical principles and regulatory requirements. The following is a mission statement for the coordinated Human Research Protection Program:
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to expanding and disseminating knowledge for the benefit of the people of North Carolina and the world. An important part of that commitment to knowledge is research of the highest quality on all aspects of the health and behavior of people, and such research is only possible through the participation of humans as research subjects. Human subjects are partners and participants in research and a precious resource to the university. At UNC-Chapel Hill, human subjects research is a privilege, but not a right. Consistent with that philosophy, it is the mission of the UNC-Chapel Hill Human Research Protection Program to ensure that
- the rights and welfare of human subjects are paramount in the research process;
- the highest standards of ethical conduct are employed in all research involving human subjects;
- research investigators are properly trained in the ethical and regulatory aspects of research with human subjects;
- research investigators deal honestly and fairly with human subjects, informing them fully of procedures to be followed, and the risks and benefits of participating in research; and
- research using human subjects at UNC-Chapel Hill conforms with all applicable local, state, and federal laws and regulations and the policies of the university.
Services to the UNC Community
- Provide integrated oversight of ethical and regulatory issues in human subjects research conducted at UNC-Chapel Hill; effective and efficient IRB review, expertise of more than 70 members across multiple IRBs, proactive consultation and training
- Develop common tools and resources; standardized application for all IRBs, standardized consent templates, OHRE web site, standard operating procedures, database for managing and tracking protocols, campus-wide help desk
- Facilitate and strengthen links to other entities involved in oversight of human research at UNC-Chapel Hill
- Provide additional resources to improve services and functioning such as compliance and monitoring, training and education, information services and administration
- Achieve and maintain accreditation for UNC-CH through the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP).