USC is committed to conducting its biomedical and behavioral research involving human subjects under rigorous ethical principles, according to Cornelius W. Sullivan, the vice provost for research.
The university’s Institutional Review Boards are empowered to review all human subjects research proposals, funded or not, which are conducted by faculty, staff, graduate or undergraduate students which involve the use of human subjects, Cornelius said.
Most of the human subjects research on the University Park campus is conducted by students. However, until recently, students were not involved in the formal IRB review process, said Susan Rose, executive director of the Office for the Protection of Research Subjects (OPRS).
Rose was instrumental is establishing an IRB student mentor/member position in order to represent and assist student researchers on the UPC and to give students a “voice” in the process.
She said funding for the graduate assistantships comes through the provost’s office, with full support from the provost.
“This is an academic institution,” Rose said, “and students are our ‘currency.’ It’s important to have students included in the entire process and that includes participation in the review process.”
While the bulk of human subjects research at UPC is unfunded, regulations only apply to federally funded projects. Rose said USC has agreed to give the same scrutiny to all human subjects research.
Student mentors are chosen for their research experience in their own field of expertise; commitment to the USC community; knowledge on human subjects protection in research; and desire and ability to mentor undergraduate and graduate students.
Shuang Frances Wu began her position in the fall 2004, and Maristela Cho will assume the role this summer.
Wu and Cho are in the USC Rossier School of Education. Wu is a doctoral student in higher education policy and organization and will graduate in August. Cho is a doctoral student concentrating on teacher education in multicultural societies with a specialization in language and literacy education and is on track to graduate in 2007.
The student mentor can be reached via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.