Reliance on external IRBs

Quick Guide: Reliance on external IRBs

You may request that IU’s Institutional Review Board rely on an external IRB to review and approve your research project. Reliance can increase efficiency, but there is still a significant amount of work required to obtain IRB approval for a protocol or a specific site, and additional regulatory requirements apply.

Words to know

Reliance—When one or more relying institutions choose to accept IRB review and oversight for a research project from another institution’s reviewing IRB. In these situations, the reviewing IRB provides IRB review and oversight for conduct of the research at the relying institution(s).

Request reliance on an external IRB by submitting a Reliance Request

Plan ahead. When you submit a reliance request, be ready to provide the following materials:

  • Documentation that the protocol has been reviewed and approved by the external IRB, unless reliance on a commercial/independent IRB is requested
  • IRB-approved protocol or other documentation of the research plan
  • IU standalone HIPAA authorization form, if you will enroll subjects
  • Confirmation of approval by any ancillary review committees (e.g. Scientific Review Committee, Radiation Safety, etc.)
  • Documents provided by the external IRB for completion by the IU IRB or HRPP (e.g. local context sheet, reliance agreement template, determination form, etc.)

If the Human Subjects Office determines that reliance is not appropriate, you must submit the study to the IU IRBs for review.

Approval of a reliance request by the HSO is only confirmation that reliance on the external IRB is appropriate. It is not an IRB approval. You are still responsible for obtaining IRB approval from the external IRB and cannot begin research until approval is granted.

When reliance is accepted, federal regulations require the relationship to be documented by a written agreement called a reliance agreement.

The HSO reliance team will facilitate completion of the reliance agreement.

Please be aware that reliance agreements can take several weeks to complete due to the complexity and institutional officials involved.

Once the HSO has granted your request for reliance and the external IRB has approved your study, you are still required to continue to submit some items to the IU IRB. Please submit amendments to the reliance request to report:

  • PI and personnel changes
  • Changes that require revisions to the HIPAA authorization
  • Potential conflicts of interest, including institutional and potential financial interests, that could affect or be affected by the research
  • Study closure

Contact the IU Human Research Protection Program

Human Subjects Research Questions:

Email: irb@iu.edu

Phone: (317) 274-8289

KC IRB Help:

Email: kcirb@iu.edu

Phone: (812) 856-4242