The Office for the Protection of Research Subjects (OPRS) is the team at the core of USC’s Human Subjects Protection Program. While IRBs review projects involving human subjects research, OPRS develops program-wide policies for the conduct and review of human subject research at USC. In addition, OPRS provides educational and training resources, two newsletters (Human Subjects Research Newsletter, Clinical Research Coordinator Newsletter), maintains the OPRS/IRB website, offers in-person presentations for Research Coordinators, IRBs, and USC researchers.
OPRS also conducts a wide ranging Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) program to identify and implement efficiencies and best practices in submission, review, oversight and conduct of human subject research. An annual IRB satisfaction survey, and not- for-cause- audits are CQI activities as well.
Contact OPRS with your suggestions, complaints, requests for policy clarifications, education sessions, or questions about new requirements.
What We Do
Policies and Procedures
- OPRS develops and maintains USC Human Subjects Research Policies and Procedures as standards and regulations evolve.
- OPRS disseminates information on regulatory changes 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 the community of USC Research Coordinators, particularly by starting the Research Coordinator Bulletin
- the building and management of a comprehensive HSPP website which receives over a quarter million hits annually
IRB Student Mentor
The IRB Student Mentor is a Graduate Assistant in the Office for Protection of Research Subjects (OPRS) available to counsel USC student investigators on issues related to human subjects protection and the IRB application process.
The IRB Student Mentor serves as a liaison between USC students and the IRB to develop a better understanding of students’ needs and concerns as they relate to protecting research subjects.
The IRB Student Mentor is also a voting member of the University Park IRB, participates in Full-board meetings and pre-reviews IRB protocols.
Letonu Tenari is a current graduate student at USC in the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Letonu graduated from UCLA where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and a minor in Cognitive Science. Her work history over the past 5 years emphasizes the increase of access to affordable and culturally competent resources in higher education as well as healthcare services for urban and low-income communities throughout the greater Los Angeles area.
Student IRB Mentor
Katherine B. Hawthorne