Training on the Protection of Human Research Subjects

Instruction on the historical background, principles, and regulations that govern the protection of human research subjects is important for understanding IRB activities and meeting ethical standards in the conduct of human subjects research (HSR).

At this time, the CGU IRB requires that all engaged members of the research team have current human subjects protections certification before the IRB application will be processed. Under regulatory definitions, an institution is “engaged” in HSR when its agents, for research purposes, have access to personally identifying data or are (or will be) interacting or intervening with human subjects. Interacting includes collecting data (even electronically and remotely), recruiting, or obtaining informed consent/assent.

Online training in this domain, including certification that training has been completed successfully, can be accessed at:

CITI Program

If you are new to the CITI Program website, click REGISTER under Create an Account on the home page, then specify Claremont Graduate University as your affiliated subscriber organization, complete the registration process, and select Social & Behavioral Research – Basic/Refresher (ID: 73610) from the course menu. If you are conducting research with clinical biomedical populations, you should also complete the appropriate Health Information Privacy and Security (HIPS) course.

All of the CITI program online course modules are self-paced and may be interrupted and resumed. Training time varies depending on your prior preparation and other factors, usually entailing up to nine hours. There is no cost to CGU-affiliated applicants for the use of this site.



IRB Calendar and Time Frames 

Applications for IRB review may be submitted at any time. All applications will be read shortly after receipt.

Nearly all applications meet the criteria either for exemption or for expedited review. The initial response to these applications will generally take two to five business days.

Applications that do not qualify for exemption or the expedited procedure require review by the full Board and are subject to the deadlines below. Board meetings take place each month. See the schedule below for meeting dates and deadlines for getting a protocol onto the respective meeting.  The Board’s written response will be conveyed within one week of its meeting.

Please contact the IRB office if you have further questions regarding the level of review your research is likely to require.

IRB Meetings

Meeting Date Full Board Review Submission Deadline
July 13, 2022 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM PDT                               06/16/2022
August 10, 2022 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM PST                               07/13/2022
September 14, 2022 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM PST                               08/10/2022
October 12, 2022 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM PST                               09/14/2022
November 09, 2022 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM PST                               10/12/2022
December 14, 2022 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM PDT                               11/09/2022
January 18, 2023 8:30 AM – 10:30 AM PDT                               12/14/2022
February 08, 2023 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM PDT                               01/11/2023
March 08, 2023 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM PDT                               02/08/2023
April 12, 2023 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM PDT                               03/08/2023
May 10, 2023 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM PDT                               04/12/2023
June 14, 2023 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM PDT                               05/10/2023


Categories of Research 



History of Ethics 

Prior to 1906, when the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed, there were no regulations regarding the ethical use of human participants in research. There were no consumer regulations, no Food and Drug Administration (FDA), no Common Rule, and no Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). What follows is a brief discussion of why federal rules and regulations were established and why IRBs became a necessity.

Nuremberg Code: The most dramatic and well-known chapter in the history of research with human participants opened on December 9, 1946, when an American military tribunal opened criminal proceedings against 23 leading German physicians and administrators for their willing participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among the charges were that German Physicians conducted medical experiments on thousands of concentration camp prisoners without their consent. Most of the participants of these experiments died or were permanently crippled as a result.

As a direct result of the trial, the Nuremberg Code was established in 1948, stating that “The voluntary consent of the human participant is absolutely essential,” making it clear that participants should give consent and that the benefits of research must outweigh the risks.

Although it did not carry the force of law, the Nuremberg Code was the first international document which advocated voluntary participation and informed consent.

Thalidomide: In the late 1950s, thalidomide was approved as a sedative in Europe; it was not approved in the United States by the FDA. The drug was prescribed to control sleep and nausea throughout pregnancy, but it was soon found that taking this drug during pregnancy caused severe deformities in the fetus. Many patients did not know they were taking a drug that was not approved for use by the FDA, nor did they give informed consent. Some 12,000 babies were born with severe deformities due to thalidomide.

U.S. Senate hearings followed and in 1962 the so-called “Kefauver Amendments” to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act were passed into law to ensure drug efficacy and greater drug safety. For the first time, drug manufacturers were required to prove to the FDA the effectiveness of their products before marketing them.

Declaration of Helsinki: In 1964, the World Medical Association established recommendations guiding medical doctors in biomedical research involving human participants. The Declaration governs international research ethics and defines rules for “research combined with clinical care” and “non-therapeutic research.” The Declaration of Helsinki was revised in 1975, 1983, 1989 and 1996 and is the basis for Good Clinical Practices used today.

Issues addressed in the Declaration of Helsinki:

  • Research with humans should be based on the results from laboratory and animal experimentation
  • Research protocols should be reviewed by an independent committee prior to initiation
  • Informed consent from research participants is necessary
  • Research should be conducted by medically/scientifically qualified individuals
  • Risks should not exceed benefits

Tuskegee Syphilis Study (1932-1972): During a research project conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service, 600 low-income African-American males, 400 of whom were infected with syphilis, were monitored for 40 years. Free medical examinations were given; however, participants were not told about their disease. Even though a proven cure (penicillin) became available in the 1950s, the study continued until 1972 with participants being denied treatment. In some cases, when participants were diagnosed as having syphilis by other physicians, researchers intervened to prevent treatment. Many participants died of syphilis during the study. The study was stopped in 1973 by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare only after its existence was publicized and it became a political embarrassment. In 1997, under mounting pressure, President Clinton apologized to the study participants and their families.

National Research Act (1974): Due to the publicity from the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, the National Research Act of 1974 was passed. The National Research Act created the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, which was charged to identify the basic ethical principles that should underlie the conduct of biomedical and behavioral research involving human participants and to develop guidelines which should be followed to assure that such research is conducted in accordance with those principles.

The Commission drafted the Belmont Report, a foundational document for the ethics of human participants research in the United States.

Radiation Experimentation and Human Participant Abuses: Another example of abuses of human participants occurred during World War II and the early cold war when U.S. officials studied the effects of radiation through experiments on hospital patients, pregnant women, retarded children, and enlisted military personnel. Few of the participants of the experiments gave informed consent; most had no knowledge that they were being subjected to radioactive materials. Manhattan Project officials authorized the wartime experiments to establish health and safety standards for the thousands of workers in atomic bomb plants. After the war, as the cold war deepened, officials justified expanded study of the effects of radiation on the grounds of national security. Following congressional investigations, numerous official reports, scholarly studies, and lawsuits, the government in the 1990s offered apologies and financial compensation to some of the human radiation testing victims.

Important Points:

  • Nazi atrocities in World War II drew attention to the lack of international standards on research with human participants and led to the formulation of the Nuremburg Code.
  • The thalidomide disaster led to the adoption of the “Kefauver Amendments” to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, requiring drug manufacturers to prove to the FDA the effectiveness of their products before making them.
  • The Declaration of Helsinki is the basis for Good Clinical Practices used today.
  • The Tuskegee Syphilis Study is probably the worst case of unethical human participants research in the history of the United States.
  • The National Research Act codified the requirement that human participants in research must be protected and set the stage for the issuance of the Belmont Report.

The Belmont Report: Carrying out its charge, the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research prepared the Belmont Report in 1979. The Belmont Report attempts to summarize the basic ethical principals identified by the Commission in the course of its deliberations. The Report is a statement of basic ethical principles and guidelines that should assist in resolving the ethical problems that surround the conduct of research with human participants. The three basic principals and their corresponding applications are:


  • Respect for Persons
    • Individuals should be treated as autonomous agents
    • Persons with diminished autonomy are entitled to protection.
  • Beneficence
    • Human participants should not be harmed
    • Research should maximize possible benefits and minimize possible risks
  • Justice
    • The benefits and risks of research must be distributed fairly


  • Informed Consent
    • Participants, to the degree that they are capable, must be given the opportunity to choose what shall or shall not happen to them
    • The consent process must include three elements:
      • Information
      • Comprehension
      • Voluntary participation
  • Assessment of risks and benefits
    • The nature and scope of risks and benefits must be assessed in a systematic manner
  • Selection of participants
    • There must be fair procedures and outcomes in the selection of research participants

Important Point: The Belmont Report established three basic ethical principals – autonomy/respect for persons, beneficence and justice – which are the cornerstone for regulations involving human participants.

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