For IRB Members

Resources IRB Members

Thank you for your invaluable contribution of time and expertise. Please use the resources below when conducting your IRB reviews.

Other Checklists:

IRB Member Responsibilities

All IRB members have the following responsibilities:

  • To be committed to the protection of human subjects in research
  • To attend IRB meetings on a regular basis, arriving on time and staying for the entire session whenever possible
  • To evaluate the assigned protocols according to the 3 principles in the Belmont Report and according to the policies and procedures as outlined in the IRB Member Handbook prior to the meeting
  • To determine which applications, if any, require more than annual consideration, and to determine which projects, if any, require verification of any facts from sources other the investigator
  • To approve or to establish any conditions necessary for approval to protect subjects, or to disapprove any research activities reviewed by the IRB, with full explanation to applicants
  • To have the authority to observe or have a third party observe the consent process
  • To undertake any special projects necessary to assure that the committee's decisions are as fully informed as possible
  • To request aid of non-voting consultants, if necessary
  • To respect the confidentiality of review materials and member discussions at the meetings
  • To provide advice and counsel to research groups, departments and individual investigators
  • To review material regarding protection of human subjects which is to be distributed to campus faculty and administrative offices 
  • To help implement Governmental and University policy regarding human research

Community Members Are Crucial to Successful IRB Processes

All research involving human participants is required to be reviewed by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure that the rights and welfare of participants are protected. IRBs are made up of both scientists and those who are not scientists (community members). Community members play important and valuable roles in:

  • Providing key perspectives for IRB consideration of human research studies
  • Helping to ensure that written materials and other aspects of a study make sense to those without scientific backgrounds

Position Description

Community Member on UCSF’s Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Responsibility: Represent the community perspective when reviewing studies involving human research. Since community members serving on IRB panels are not expected to evaluate the quality of the science proposed in IRB applications, community members are not required to have an advanced degree or to have a background in science.


  • Interest in a broad range of health-oriented research
  • Ability to read study submissions, consider the research study protocols from the perspective of a study participant, and identify areas that may raise ethical or justice concerns, or be of special interest to potential participants
  • Ability to consider studies from the point of view of members of the general community
  • Comfort in speaking up to express concerns and ask questions in a committee meeting
  • Commitment to the protection of human participants in research
  • Respect for the confidentiality of review materials and member discussions at the meetings
  • Ability to review assigned studies in advance of meeting (preparation time averages 2-3 hours for each meeting attended)
  • Willingness to serve for at least two years

Time commitment 

The total time commitment for community members is ~5 hours per meeting (2-3 hours preparation + 2-hour meeting). Depending on the Committee, there are 1 or 2 meetings each month.

If you are interested in becoming a Community Member of the IRB, and you reside within the San Francisco Bay Area, send an email to [email protected] with the subject line ‘IRB Community Member Interest’ and we will get back to you with more information.

Last updated: September 27, 2023