UW Research

How to Ask For a Non-UW IRB

Getting Started

HSD authorization must be obtained after a researcher identifies the need for an external IRB. HSD must authorize the use of any external IRB for each study, even under pre-established cooperative or reliance agreements. See a summary depiction of the process: External IRB Initial Review Process Diagram

When to start

Industry sponsored and initiated research. At the same time you submit to all other necessary compliance/administrative offices. This allows for concurrent review. Budget approval and a finalized contract (Clinical Trials Agreement) are not necessary before asking for (and receiving) external IRB authorization from HSD.

Grant-funded research that will make use of one of the already-established arrangements described in Identify the Correct IRB. Submit your request to use the external IRB when you are ready to start applying for IRB review (typically after you have received a notice of award or a favorable score).

All other grant-funded research. Contact the HSD Reliance team at hsdrely@uw.edu while preparing the grant proposal. HSD will assess the proposed external IRB, provide you with a Letter of Support, and advise you on any budget implications.

Other research. When you have enough information to complete the REQUEST: External IRB Review form that must be submitted in the Zipline system.

Initiate the process
Submit an application in the UW’s Zipline e-IRB system. The application process is the same as the standard IRB application process but the system branches on the first webpage when an external IRB is selected, to show only a limited set of questions and requirements. Be sure to upload any materials already provided by the external IRB (or lead site, for multi-institutional research). The REQUEST: External IRB Review form is always required. Pre-requisite: The UW researcher and the person preparing the Zipline application must already be registered in the Zipline system.

Three common, high-impact mistakes (and how to prevent them)

  • Not allowing enough time for HSD to negotiate a reliance agreement with the external IRB (when there isn’t already an existing reliance agreement).
    Prevention: Initiate the request for an external IRB as soon as possible.
  • Providing a study title in Zipline or on the REQUEST: External IRB Review form that is inconsistent with the protocol title.
    Prevention: On the REQUEST: External IRB Review form, provide the full, complete title that is the same as the title on the company protocol document and on the contract.
  • Not providing the e-GC1 number for a grant that is supporting the research. This information makes it much easier and faster for OSP to allow the release of your grant funds for human subjects research.
    Prevention: Provide the e-GC1 number where it is requested on the Zipline Funding SmartForm, or add the word “pending” if the number is not yet available.

What to expect after submitting
A HSD staff member will be assigned to your request, usually within one business day. You will receive an email notice if additional information is needed and also to inform you about the outcome of HSD’s evaluation of your request.

Time required
Authorization can take one day to several weeks, depending on whether it is necessary to establish a reliance agreement and how complex the agreement is. UW has already established several standing agreements and will use them whenever possible instead of negotiating a new agreement.

HSD actions

  1. Ensure that the proposed external IRB is appropriate and qualified. This step is minimal or unnecessary if the researcher already obtained a Letter of Support about the external IRB for a grant application or if the external IRB is one of the many already-established review arrangements. If the external IRB is not appropriate, HSD will work with the UW PI to select another external IRB or obtain review from the UW IRB.
  2. Confirm or establish any necessary reliance agreements. These are legally-binding written agreements by which one institution or individual gives permission for an IRB to review research on their behalf. HSD is the only entity authorized to sign on behalf of the UW. Reliance agreements are required by federal human subjects regulations. The UW has already-established generic written agreements with many IRBs (e.g., Seattle Children’s). Sometimes also called authorization agreement, memorandum of understanding, master agreement, or individual investigator agreements.
  3. Provide local context information to the external IRB, if required. IRBs must consider any applicable state or local laws, or institutional policies that apply to the UW research. External IRBs request this information through questionnaires, worksheets, or webforms. Though the request may be received by the UW researcher, the information should be provided in collaboration with HSD to ensure its completeness and accuracy.
  4. Provide documentation authorizing the use of the external IRB. Zipline sends an automatic email notification to the UW researcher when HSD authorizes the use of the external IRB. The email has a link to a Letter of Authorization. This is the signal that the researcher can now apply to the external IRB. The Letter is a permanent part of the Zipline e-file and can be downloaded by the UW researcher at any time. It should be provided to the external IRB with the IRB application.

Applying to the External IRB

UW researchers must use the system, forms, and processes of the external IRB. Consult the IRB’s webpage or office for information or assistance.

  • UW researchers participating in collaborative or multi-site research should consult with the lead researcher or coordinating center to find out who will be responsible for submitting the UW application to the external IRB
  • In all cases, the IRB application should include a copy of the Letter of Authorization provided by HSD. Some IRBs (such as Seattle Children’s and the Hutch) will not review UW research without the Letter.

During the Research

The Zipline application requesting authorization to use an External IRB should be updated only when:

  • There is a change in UW PI
  • There is a change in the Reviewing/External IRB
  • The study has been closed by the Reviewing/External IRB

For information about how to submit a study update or closure, visit INSTRUCTIONS: Update or Close Study (External IRB). Please note that there may be changes to the update requirements in the future.

UW PIs are responsible for following the policies of the external IRB. This includes submitting to the reviewing IRB using their forms and processes (or assisting the lead site with that process), following their reporting requirements for unanticipated problems and new information about the study, and complying with the stipulations of the IRB’s approval.

UW PIs are also responsible for:

  • Ensuring that any relevant financial conflicts of interest are disclosed to the reviewing IRB and that conflict of interest management plans issued by the Office of Research are given to the reviewing IRB.
  • Obtaining any required ancillary review and approvals and providing the results of these reviews to the reviewing IRB if requested.
  • Making copies of IRB approvals available for inspection by monitors and auditors.

See the CHECKLIST: External IRB, UW Researchers for a detailed list of responsibilities.