Bioethics News

Public Members Needed

The Research Involving Human Subjects Committee (RIHSC) FDA’s IRB, is looking for up to three individuals from the community to serve as public members on the committee.


FDA is committed to safeguarding the rights and welfare of all human beings who participate as subjects in research. The RIHSC reviews all research involving human subjects conducted, supported, or funded, in whole or in part, by FDA, to ensure that the research complies with applicable laws and ethical research standards.


What kind of members serve on an IRB?


Ideally, IRBs are made up of members from diverse backgrounds.  Diversity assures a complete and thorough review of the research activities from a variety of perspectives.


We are seeking community members with different kinds of backgrounds than our current members. Some examples would be educators, members of the clergy, laborers, and previous government employees who have not worked in public health agencies.


RIHSC membership currently has scientists, health care professionals, social scientists, and regulatory counsel.


What are the qualifications RIHSC is seeking in a Public Member?


Although not required, it may be beneficial to have experience in:


  • Health communication, health literacy, or plain language
  • Consumer or patient advocacy
  • Ethical analysis or


Community members who volunteer to be a public member for RIHSC may not be affiliated with FDA or be an immediate family member of a person affiliated with FDA. 


What are the responsibilities of a public member of RIHSC?


The public members on a rotating basis will be asked to:


  • Prepare for monthly committee meetings
  • Attend monthly committee meetings (typically meets for 2-3 hours on the first Wednesday of the month, during business hours)
  • Attend meetings
  • Add to the discussion and vote on the proposed study based on certain criteria, such as if the risk to subjects is reasonable, minimized, and fully disclosed to subjects.

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.