Developing a Rapid Response Single IRB Model for Conducting Research during a Public Health Emergency

Abigail E. Lowe*, Colleen Kraft, Mark G. Kortepeter, Keith F. Hansen, Kristine Sanger, Ann Johnson, Jonathan D. Grein, Julie Martin, Rebecca Rousselle, Jennifer A. Garland, Jessica Spotts, John J. Lowe, Lauren M. Sauer, Christopher J. Kratochvil, Bruce G. Gordon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Research is foundational for evidence-based management of patients. Clinical research, however, takes time to plan, conduct, and disseminate-a luxury that is rarely available during a public health emergency. The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) developed a single institutional review board (IRB), with a vision to establish a rapid review resource for a network focused on clinical research of emerging pathogens in the United States. A core aspect of successful initiation of research during a pandemic or epidemic is the ability to operationalize an approach for rapid ethical review of human subject research and conduct those reviews at multiple sites-without losing any of the substantive aspects of ethics review. This process must be cultivated in anticipation of a public health emergency. US guidance for operationalizing IRB review for multisite research in a public health emergency is not well studied and processes are not well established. UNMC sought to address operational gaps and identify the unique procedural needs of rapid response single IRB (RR-sIRB) review of multisite research by conducting a series of preparedness exercises to develop and test the RR-sIRB model. For decades, emergency responder, healthcare, and public health organizations have conducted emergency preparedness exercises to test requirements for emergency response. In this article, we describe 2 types of simulation exercises conducted by UNMC: workshops and tabletops. This effort represents a unique use of emergency preparedness exercises to develop, refine, and test rapid review functions for an sIRB and to validate readiness of regulatory research processes. Such processes are crucial for conducting rapid, ethical, and sound clinical research in public health emergencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S60-S70
JournalHealth Security
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • Covid-19
  • Investigational drugs
  • Public health preparedness/response
  • Rapid review
  • Single irb review


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