UW Research

Research Involving Valley Medical Center

Valley Medical Center operates under the umbrella of UW Medicine as a component of UW Medicine, but it remains a separate legal entity. Because of this, research involving Valley is more complex than research involving other UW Medicine facilities (such as Harborview or UW Primary Care Clinics).

Valley does not have its own IRB, though it has in the past. Instead, Valley maintains a Clinical Research Oversight Committee (ROC) which oversees and approves all research activities at Valley. Most research that will take place at Valley facilities or involve Valley patients requires ROC review and approval prior to conducting the research. This applies whether the research is led by Valley investigators or external/UW investigators. If you are unsure if your study needs ROC review or have any questions, contact the ROC Coordinator at: Research@ValleyMed.org. In most cases, you should have your IRB determination or approval completed prior to ROC submission.

Because the Valley ROC is not an IRB, investigators conducting human subjects research at Valley also need to obtain IRB review. Identifying the appropriate IRB to submit to depends on multiple factors, including the nature of the UW’s participation.

UW led research involving Valley

Research initiated by UW faculty members, staff, residents, and students that will involve Valley facilities or patients must obtain ROC review and approval before the research may begin. A copy of the ROC approval is not typically required as part of the IRB submission, however the UW IRB may request a copy in rare circumstances.

When UW led research also engages Valley (i.e., Valley employees are involved in conducting the research; view the Engagement Worksheet), Valley will need to enact a reliance agreement to rely on the IRB that is reviewing the research:

  • If the research will be reviewed by the UW IRB, the UW IRB can review on behalf of Valley via the standard multi-site review and reliance process. Because there is no standing agreement between Valley and the UW IRB, each time the UW IRB agrees to review on behalf of Valley, a separate study-specific reliance agreement must be negotiated between the institutions.
  • If the research will be reviewed by a non-UW IRB, Valley will need to seek a separate reliance on that non-UW IRB (e.g., a commercial IRB for industry research, the Fred Hutch IRB for cancer-related research, etc.). The UW IRB is not involved in facilitating this process.

For additional information about research involving Valley or for questions about establishing a reliance agreement with Valley, contact hsdrely@uw.edu.

Valley led research involving human subjects

The UW IRB is not the default IRB for research initiated by Valley employees, because:

  • Valley is not listed on the UW’s FWA,
  • With few exceptions, the physicians and staff at Valley are not UW employees or UW Physician (UWP) employees, and
  • There is no general authorization agreement between Valley and the UW by which the UW agrees to provide IRB review for Valley.

Valley physicians, employees, and residents who wish to conduct research must fulfill all Valley research compliance requirements before conducting the research. Contact the Clinical Research Department at Valley for more information.

For Valley research that does not engage the UW (view the Engagement Worksheet), the UW IRB will not serve as the IRB of record.

Valley led research that does engage the UW may qualify for review by the UW IRB depending on several factors. Contact hsdrely@uw.edu with information about the study to request a consultation.

Additional information and considerations

Some things to know about the relationship between UW and Valley:

  • Many Valley physicians have clinical faculty appointments at the UW School of Medicine, but these are not paid positions (and they are not considered UW agents for the purpose of research). These clinical faculty members may have UW email addresses in addition to their Valley email addresses.
  • Valley is part of the UW Medicine HIPAA covered entity (101.G1 UW HIPAA Designation). However, Valley’s medical records are maintained electronically on a different system than the system used by most other components of UW Medicine. In most cases, you will have to request access to Valley’s EMR. This process can take up to two weeks depending on IT volumes. Additional requests, such as EMR lists, reports, and data pulls can be submitted on a case-by-case basis and are subject to IT availability. Instructions for these requests will be furnished upon ROC approval.
  • Researchers wishing to be on-site at Valley are subject to all applicable Valley Employee Health requirements (vaccinations, etc.).
  • Valley operates several residency programs that are not UW residency programs. Residents in these Valley programs are not considered UW employees or agents for the purpose of research. For example:
    • The Family Medicine residency program at Valley is part of the UW Family Medicine Residency Network for the WWAMI program but these residents are employed by the sites within the network (e.g., Valley), not the UW.
    • Valley pharmacy residents have the opportunity to complete elective rotations at UW Medical Center and Harborview. This program is affiliated with, but not part of, the UW School of Pharmacy residency program.
  • Valley is a training site for several UW School of Medicine residency programs. Residents in these programs are UW employees and may use the UW IRB for their research. Examples of UW residency programs that may involve Valley placements include (but are not limited to): Surgery, Emergency Medicine, and MEDEX.