A first step towards a saner, more efficient medical research enterprise.

It is insufficiently known that when asked, patients are very willing to share their medical information with researchers but much less so with public health authorities or third party companies. It is therefore ironic,  that whereas the latter two groups do not require institutional review, researchers do. Moreover, if a study pertains to a set of patients seen at different institutions, the researcher will first have to obtain review from the institutional review boards (IRBs) of each one of the institutions. For a variety of reasons there is significant  inertia working against getting one IRB to cede review of the study to another IRB. For this reason, this draft policy from the NIH is a welcome potential accelerant of biomedical research. If it is ratified, this policy will ensure that a single IRB for these multi-institutional studies becomes the rule and not the exception. A seemingly fine point to those who have never had to organize a multi-institional research study,  but it might do more to advance medicine than hundreds of millions of dollars in additional research funding.

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