The Office for the Protection of Research Subjects (OPRS) was established in 2004 to create and oversee a University-wide Human Subjects Protections Program (HSPP) that is innovative, dynamic, and ranks among the nation’s best.
OPRS strives to exceed regulatory and ethical requirements for all USC human subjects research activities. In 2007, OPRS achieved full accreditation from the Association for Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs. Accreditation requires implementation of best practices at all levels of the HSPP and continual improvements to maintain excellence.
A primary goal for OPRS is to maintain AAHRPP accreditation by commitment to:
Policies and Procedures
- USC Human Subjects Research Policies and Procedures are continually updated as standards and regulations evolve.
- OPRS monitors local, state, and federal regulations, and translates these into best practices at USC.
- New information on regulatory changes is disseminated to the research community through education sessions, listservs, newsletters, and IRB meetings.
- OPRS keeps the USC human subjects research community apprised of evolving practices and expectations.
- Information is disseminated through the USC Human Subjects Newsletter, education sessions, lectures, and this website. Ongoing dialogue is maintained with USC schools, department faculty, staff, and students to address issues of mutual concern.
- OPRS is committed to furthering education at all levels of the Human Subject Protection Program.
- OPRS has implemented an education policy that requires all USC human subjects researchers to complete training in Human Subjects Protection regardless of the researchers’ funding source, or study risk-level.
- OPRS offers regular and ongoing human subjects educational training sessions covering federal regulations, human subjects ethics and history, the Institutional Review Board process, conflicts of interest, and more.
- OPRS provides IRB members with monthly education and refreshers in research regulations as needed.
- OPRS is committed to best practices and the proper application of ethics and regulations.
- Leading the HSPP team, OPRS coordinates and implements Federal, State, local and University policies.
- OPRS routinely performs policy revisions, quality improvement, and seeks to adopt new practices as needed.
- OPRS oversees four IRBs to ensure that regulations, institutional polices, and USC’s Code of Ethics, are being upheld.
- OPRS Executive Director and staff communicate with peers at other institutions and government offices in search of new and better ways to protect subjects and uphold local policy.
- OPRS is proud to share its ideas and practices with the local, regional, and national human subjects research communities.
- Educational materials and innovative practices created by OPRS have been implemented by many other research institutions.
- OPRS Executive Director Susan Rose regularly serves as a faculty and planning committee member at premier national conferences, is a writer and contributor to the CITI human subjects education program, and sits on the planning committee for the AAHRPP national conference.
- OPRS office is committed to outreach beyond USC and promotes this in a variety of ways:
- distributing educational brochures at USC affiliated hospitals and clinics
- participating in health fairs and events
- serving on USC community outreach committees and the CBLC (Community Based Learning Collaborative)
- networking through IRB community members
- volunteering at local schools and churches.
- OPRS is committed to developing novel, effective, and innovative best practices. Some of these efforts include:
- the creation of the IRB Student Mentor/Member (a graduate student who not only serves on the IRB as a voting member but also assists students in the IRB process)
- the placement of undergraduate students as voting members on the IRB
- our publications and booklets have garnered national attention; new editions include: What it Takes to be an IRB Community Member and Student Handbook: Making Sense of Human Subjects Research
- bringing a greater focus to Research Coordinator activities, in particular starting the Research Coordinator Bulletin
- the building and management of a comprehensive HSPP website which receives over a quarter million hits annually
- OPRS has helped to implement flexibility policies that limit the scope of its Federalwide Assurance (FWA) to federally funded research, the terms of which allow an appropriate level of flexibility for research involving no greater than minimal risk.
- OPRS is part of a coalition to share ideas, find flexible approaches to the current federal regulations, and call for significant change in federal oversight.