Minutes - Feb 18, 2008

Date of Meeting: 

Monday, February 18, 2008


Dickson, Hesli, Leddy, Malanson, Snetselaar, Subramanian, Wichman, Hay, Hichwa, Reardon, Semel, Sharpe


Martha Jones, Human Subjects Office; Jane Drews, Information Technology Security Officer


Denburg, Fan, Flatté, Folsom, Fortney, Grassian, Hynes, Jung, Kirby, Knosp, Ricketts

Professor Vicki Hesli called the meeting to order at 2:00 p.m.

Approval of minutes

Professor Hesli asked for any comments concerning the minutes from the December meeting.  There were no changes and the minutes were passed.

Follow-up to Dean Keller’s Presentation

The draft of the letter to Dean Keller prepared by the subcommittee (Professor Malanson, Ms. Hynes, and Mr. Dickson) was presented by Professor Malanson and Mr. Dickson. Professor Malanson reiterated the difficulty in writing a letter that presented the concerns of the Research Council but did not sound like we were trying to tell Dean Keller what to do. 

Professor Hesli indicated that the letter did a very good job of fulfilling the charge given to the subcommittee.  The following changes were suggested.  In the third paragraph, it was suggested that we delete everything after sentence that begins “secondarily” and incorporate “secondarily” into the next sentence.  It was also suggested that we change the end of the first paragraph from “Further discussion between you and the VPR or the Research Council might be warranted” to “Further discussion between you and the Research Council is strongly encouraged.  Both changes were accepted.

Professor Hesli then asked that the letter be approved with the two changes.  The letter was approved and will be sent.

Ethics and research misconduct training modules

This is an item carried forward from previous meetings. Professor Hesli showed the Council an example of a modular training system that is already in place (http://www.fhcrc.org/science/education/courses/research_ethics/training/online/). 

The resulting discussion included the following points:

  1. Mistakes made in research may be due to lack of awareness.
  2. Requiring training for faculty as well as trainees.
  3. Variability across departments/colleges as to the kinds of training that would be required.
  4. The additional burden placed on faculty to complete mandatory modules might not be worth it.
  5. While there may be a small number of investigators making mistakes, these mistakes can be very, very costly to the University.

A motion was made to create a Task Force to work with the Office of the Vice President for Research to implement online training modules on “Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarly Ethics” as a required component of graduate education and post-graduate training at the University of Iowa.  The motion was expanded to include work with the Office of the Vice President for Research to develop complementary training modules for faculty and staff.  The task force is to report back to the Research Council by the end of April.  The motion passed.

Grant writing incentives

This item was also carried over from earlier meetings.

It was noted that there seems to be large variation between colleges on the services they provide to their faculty.  Professor Hesli suggested that it might be appropriate to obtain more information about various colleges to determine what might be needed.

Professor Snetselaar indicated that her department requires faculty to provide grant support for 50% of their salary.  She also indicated that her college/department provides administrative support for writing grants as well as structured review committees.

Professor Hesli suggested that Research Council confine their efforts in this area to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since this seemed to be where the greatest need existed.

Process Improvement – Human Subjects Office

Dr. Rich Hichwa and Martha Jones presented the findings from a recent internal audit.  These findings are outlined on the attached handout presented by Dr. Hichwa. 

Highlights include:

  • Consequences of delays including loss of funding
  • Staff shortage for volume of applications processed
  • Shortage of faculty volunteers resulting in delays and a lack of expertise
  • Increase in regulations and expansion of regulations to include many low risk studies

Dr. Hichwa outlined the need for faculty support both to volunteer to serve on IRB Committees as well as provide feedback concerning the process.

UI Policy on social security numbers and changes in the IRB application process

Jane Drews, Information Technology Security Officer outlined the changes that have occurred concerning SSNs and other policies.  The University has moved to delete all social security numbers from their systems, including research. 

These changes include:

  • For studies that have to retain social security numbers, there is now a question on the HawkIRB application that asks for the name of the person responsible for the security of that data.
  • Social security numbers are no longer required for research payments of less than $25.

Ms. Drews also asked for suggestions of how to disseminate this information to the research community.  She was given suggestions of groups to meet with.

Professor Hesli indicated that she encouraged agenda items for future meetings at any time.

Meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.