Bioethics Blogs

Protecting Research Volunteers: It’s All Part of the Family

by Dr. Toby Schonfeld, Human Subjects Research Review Official, Environmental Protection Agency

Dr. Toby Schonfeld, Human Subjects Research Review Official at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recently shared her experience at PRIM&R’s 2014 Advancing Ethical Research Conference on the EPA’s official science blog, “It All Starts with Science.”  We are pleased to share her thoughts and observations with our community, and thank Dr. Schonfeld and the EPA for allowing us to do so.

You know that great feeling you get when you gather with friends or family members that you
haven’t seen in a while? I’m talking about that “I’m part of something special” feeling, where you barely even have to finish a sentence before others are agreeing with you, or exclaiming “Me too!” or just seem to really understand your perspective. In short, these people “get” you.

That’s the feeling I get when I attend the annual meeting of Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R), as my EPA colleague Dan Nelson and I did in early December. PRIM&R is a place where people who care deeply about human subject research protections gather to share best practices and to learn from experts in ethics and compliance about contemporary strategies for human subject protections. Officially, the organization provides “professionals responsible for ensuring research protections, and those involved in the design and implementation of research protocols, with education, practical tools, and cutting-edge strategies” (PRIM&R website accessed December 23, 2014:

This year’s Advancing Ethical Research conference was no exception. More than 2,700 professionals traveled to Baltimore to participate in 130-plus break-out sessions and several special events throughout the three-day meeting.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.