Institutional Review Board (IRB) - Human Subject Research

Our Mission

The UTSA Institutional Review Board (IRB) is the university committee that reviews and approves human subject research for the purpose of protecting the rights and welfare of those subjects. The Board is charged with the responsibility to formulate and implement procedures to assure the University's compliance with federal, state and institutional regulations for the safeguarding of the welfare and well-being (physical, mental, social, legal, etc.) of human subjects involved in research projects in which UTSA is engaged or for which UTSA otherwise exercises oversight.

The UTSA is committed to the principles of the Belmont Report. These principles consist of respect for persons, beneficence and justice. These principles guide the review of research with human subjects at UTSA.

The UTSA IRB operates under a Federalwide Assurance (FWA) with the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) under the Department of Health and Human Services. Membership on the IRB is composed of 9 members including at least one non-scientist and at least one individual who is not otherwise affiliated with the UTSA. Membership includes individuals with varying backgrounds to promote complete and adequate review of research activities commonly conducted by the institution. The membership is comprised of individuals representing diversity of race, gender, and cultural backgrounds so as to promote consideration of local community attitudes.

The IRB advises and educates researchers, staff and students on research with human subjects and promotes best practices for the ethical conduct of research with these individuals.

Authority of the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

As a condition of receiving federal funds to support the University in its mission of teaching, research, and service, The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) must follow policies, procedures and law promulgated and issued by the federal government and federal agencies. It is the policy of UTSA to follow governmental regulations and laws and to abide by terms and conditions set forth in the operation of university committees regulated by the federal government. This includes the selection, governance and operation of university regulatory committees. Two regulatory committees whose governance structure and operation is regulated by federal government and whose decision to approve, require modification in, or disapprove an activity performed by a university employee or using university facilities, and which cannot be overruled at the Institutional level, are the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects (IRB) and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).

Under the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure with 1970 Interpretive Comments, "The Association of American Colleges and the American Association of University Professors have long recognized that membership in the academic profession carries with it special responsibilities. Both Associations either separately or jointly have consistently affirmed these responsibilities in major policy statements, providing guidance to professors in their utterances as citizens, in the exercise of their responsibilities to the institution and to students, and in their conduct when resigning from their institution or when undertaking government-sponsored research. (1970 Interpretive Comments, page 5)." Thus, submitting a protocol through and obtaining approval from UTSA's IRB and/or IACUC which involves either human subjects or animal subjects is a requirement of conducting research at UTSA.

The Federal Wide Assurance (FWA) for the Protection of Human Subjects ( states that "All Institution's human subjects research activities, regardless of whether the research is subject to federal regulations, will be guided by the ethical principles in: (a) The Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subject and Biomedical and behavioral Research, or (b) other appropriate ethical standards recognized by federal departments and agencies that have adopted the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, known as the Common Rule." UTSA has an approved FWA. The FWA states that recipients of federal funding shall comply with the federal policy for the protection of Human Subjects and shall comply with not only the overarching policies and procedures mandated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) but will also comply with additional human subjects regulations and policies of other federal departments or agencies which conduct or support research and will comply with state, local or institutional laws, regulations and policies. The FWA states that the IRB has the authority to approve, require modification in, or disapprove the human subject research. The authority of the IRB to disapprove research cannot be overruled at the Institutional level. Therefore, if the IRB does not approve a research activity, the activity cannot be conducted at UTSA or by any employee of UTSA.

Similarly, The Federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) ( governs how animals can be used in research, testing, and teaching. The AWA is the basis for regulatory authority that is given to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure the welfare of covered animals used in regulated activities. The Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals ( and the AWA mandate the review of animal research protocols by the animal care and use committee before any research may begin. The AWA also requires the IACUC to review all approved protocols on an annual basis. The IACUC must review and approve, require modifications to a proposal in order to secure approval, or disapprove any protocol which it receives.

UTSA has an Assurance statement filed with the U.S. Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) and is an AAALAC accredited laboratory animal facility. As such UTSA agrees to follow federal, state and local regulations governing the use of animals in research, teaching and testing. Under OLAW and the University's Assurance, the authority of the IACUC may not be overruled at the Institutional level. Therefore, if the IACUC does not approve an activity involving animals, the activity cannot be conducted at UTSA or by any employee of UTSA.

IRB Help Lab

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is offering help sessions every Tuesday & Wednesday from 2:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M. at Room 2.128C in the Plaza Norte Building. Bring in an electronic copy of any materials with which you need assistance or call 458-6473 for a telephone consultation. Get the answers to all your IRB questions.

IRB Help Lab Information