UW Research
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COVID-19 and Human Subjects Research

Most ongoing and new in-person human subjects research was temporarily halted on March 23, 2020. Since then, a gradually-increasing amount of research has been allowed to resume or begin. See below for a description of the research that is currently allowed.


Page last updated: 02.25.2021, 02:00 PM PST – Removed reference to ITHS COVID-19 Research Portal.

Research allowed during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Go to this page for:

  • A description of the types of research that are allowed
  • The HSD COVID-19 Relative Risk Tool that researchers can use to self-determine whether their research is allowed
  • The infection control requirements associated with doing human subjects research


International research

For international research locations where a local IRB has provided review: The research may proceed if it is allowed by the local IRB. If a local IRB has not provided review, contact hsdinfo@uw.edu.

Research reviewed by a non-UW IRB

When the external IRB is a local non-commercial IRB (e.g., Fred Hutch, Seattle Children’s): Follow the requirements and policies of that IRB as to which research can resume and under what conditions.

For all other external IRBs: For domestic research locations (i.e., a U.S. location), only research allowed by HSD may resume or begin.

Non-UW institutions being reviewed by the UW IRB

These sites should follow the policies and requirements of their own institution. This means that the research may be allowed at some locations but not at others.

Exempt research

All ongoing or new exempt research must meet the same criteria.


Information for UW Researchers Planning COVID-19 Research


UW Medicine clinical specimens and residual clinical specimens. These can be obtained only through NorthWest Biospecimen. Contact Sarah Bowell sbowell@uw.edu. Note it is likely that not all researchers will be able to obtain these specimens, and NorthWest Biospecimen is not robustly staffed. Do not contact clinicians directly, as hospital regulations (driven by accreditation compliance requirements) are not authorized to provide specimens to researchers.

Specimens obtained for research purposes. This includes specimens that may be obtained by “piggybacking” onto collection done for clinical purposes. You must have prospective IRB approval before collecting the specimens, even if they will be de-identified or anonymized.

Returning results to participants

Results cannot be returned to individual research participants if the information is about the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of any disease unless the laboratory is certified by the Washington State Department of Health or by the federal CLIA program. This is not an IRB policy; it is due to the federal CLIA regulations and Washington State law.

This means that COVID-19 test results cannot shared with participants unless the testing is done by a certified lab.