UW Research

Step 5. Is the UW IRB the Right IRB?

This is the fifth of five steps in determining whether your planned activity requires IRB review and, if yes, by which IRB.

Why this matters

Every IRB has its own application form and submission process. Submitting an application to the wrong IRB means that you will need to repeat all of your work, with a different IRB application and a different IRB’s process. This is frustrating, time-consuming, and will delay the start of your research.

General principles

The UW IRB must review all UW research unless a formal agreement has been established between HSD and another organization that will conduct the IRB review.

The UW IRB is usually the right IRB for most UW research in which the UW is conducting all of or a majority of the research activities. For some research activities involving a small number of other organizations, the UW IRB may be willing to conduct review for the other organizations involved. This is determined on a case-by-case basis. To ask whether the UW IRB will conduct review for other involved organizations, follow the directions in the More information section at the end of the page to contact HSD, before submitting your application to the UW IRB.

When the UW IRB is not the right IRB

Industry-initiated-and-sponsored research. The UW requires this type of research to be reviewed by an independent IRB such as WIRB or Advarra instead of the UW IRB.

Cancer-related more-than-minimal-risk research that will obtain consent from subjects and that is conducted by UW faculty who are members of the Cancer Consortium. The UW requires this type of research to be reviewed by the Cancer Consortium IRB (CC-IRB) operated by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

NIH-supported multi-site studies in which all of the sites are conducting the same protocol. When the UW is one of the sites participating in this type of research,  NIH requires all of the sites to be reviewed by a single IRB (which will not be the UW IRB).

Research involving other institutions in addition to the UW. Many studies involve collaboration with other institutions. The UW IRB may be willing to rely upon the IRB of one of the other institutions instead of doing its own review.

Research involving employees, clients, or identifiable records from some Washington State agencies. The Washington State IRB must review UW research involving employees, clients or identifiable records from the Washington State Department of Early Learning, Department of Health, Department of Social and Health Services, Department of Labor and Industries, Office of Financial Management, and Health Care Authority. In some circumstances, the UW IRB can rely upon this review without doing a review of its own.

See the page External IRB Review of UW Research for a full list of situations in which UW is not the right IRB.

Request an exception

HSD may infrequently and in compelling circumstances issue exceptions to the policies above and allow the research to be reviewed by another IRB. Note that exceptions to the policies will be granted only if there is an objective and valid reason. Follow the directions below under More information to contact the HSD Reliance Team to request an exception.

Next step

Prepare and submit your application to the correct IRB.

Use Zipline to:

More information

  • Contact the HSD Reliance Team at hsdrely@uw.edu if you have questions or want guidance about which IRB should review a study. Include in your email:
    • The name of the UW PI
    • A brief description of the study, and, a copy of the protocol or research plan if available
    • The name of the funding agency, if there is one
    • The names of the other organizations involved in the research
    • For multi-site studies, whether UW is the lead or a site
    • The name of the external IRB you are considering

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