Local IRBs vs. Central IRBs

local central irbs
local central irbs


In the scientific research community, there are two types of independent review boards (IRBs): local IRBs and central IRBs. These independent organizations review human subject research in order to ensure that studies are conducted with ethical care as the priority for subjects. Local IRBs typically review studies that take place at a single institution (like a hospital or university), while central IRBs handle multi-institutional research projects to make decisions about if and how studies should proceed.

What is an IRB?

An independent review board ensures that research is consistent with ethical standards for testing on study subjects. It is a requirement by law that all research studies involving human subjects—including clinical trials, observational studies, and behavioral research—be approved by an IRB before they can begin.

IRBs are made up of a group of at least 5 people with medical and scientific expertise who help to ensure the safety and well-being of human participants in research projects. An IRB must include at least 1 member with a scientific background, at least 1 member with a nonscientific background, and 1 member who is not affiliated with the institution. In addition, any member who may have a conflict of interest when reviewing a particular study – for example, if a medical doctor on the IRB is the principal investigator on a study being reviewed – that person will be asked to abstain from the review of that study. If the study involves special populations, such as children, incarcerated or pregnant people, or mentally disabled populations, a member or advocate from the group being considered will also be on the IRB.

They’re responsible for ensuring that your study meets federal regulations and adheres to ethical principles like respect for persons, beneficence (doing good), and justice (fairness).

What is a local IRB?

Local IRBs, or local institutional review boards, are often set up by universities. They are usually staffed by people who work at the university and they may be easier to work with than central IRBs. Local IRBs may also be more flexible if you are working with a small group of people, and are often used for investigator-initiated trials.

What is a central IRB?

A central IRB is a single IRB that reviews research protocols, and The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funds their operation. They monitor research for all sites involved in a research study and generally involve fewer regulatory submissions and a more streamlined, efficient review process.

You may have to work with both types of IRBs.

You may be required to work with both local and central IRBs. The difference between them is in the standards they set for your research, as well as their independence from the government. Central IRBs are considered more rigorous than local IRBs, but this doesn’t mean that local IRBs aren’t good enough. They’re just easier to get approved and don’t have many requirements. If you’re working on a short-term project that doesn’t require extensive federal oversight, a local IRB will probably suffice for your needs (and save your institution some money).


In conclusion, you should know that there are different types of IRBs and they have different responsibilities. A central IRB is a single body that oversees all research activities at medical centers in a certain area. It also provides guidance to researchers who want to conduct studies on human subjects. A local IRB is an independent group that reviews proposals for research involving humans at hospitals within its jurisdiction. Both local and central IRBs review proposals so that researchers can get the approval they need before doing their work.

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