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IRBNet Announces 4th Annual IRBNet Ethics in Human Research Protection Award

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Dec. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- At universities, hospital systems and government agencies large and small, ethics review boards tasked with overseeing the protection of human subjects in research are continuously working to improve the quality of reviews and research oversight.  These Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are under tremendous obligation from federal regulation and face intense pressure from medical device and drug companies pushing to complete research projects. Limited resources and little reward frequently hamstring IRB research oversight effectiveness.

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IRBNet, the leader in global IRB management solutions, presents the annual IRBNet Ethics in Human Research Protection Award to recognize and celebrate the commitment of individuals and research institutions to the advancement of knowledge via research and the protection of human subjects.

The award is presented annually to the exceptional individual and institution that embodies excellence in the human subjects protection field. Criteria include efficient and effective human subject research oversight, cultivation of a culture of research ethics at their institution, commitment to drive change, and contribution to excellence in the field.

"Too often offices for human subject protection are underappreciated," said Andrew Olmsted, IRBNet Vice President for Member Services. "The staff of these offices are on the front lines to protect both the rights of the subjects in research and the integrity and moral responsibilities of leading research institutions across the country." 

The 4th Annual IRBNet Ethics in Human Research Protection Award is given to Karen Christianson RN, BSN, CCRP, Director of the Human Research Protection Program at Baystate Health in Springfield, Massachusetts.

In 2008, while Baystate Health was in the process of restructuring its research program, a major research misconduct event occurred. Research leadership accelerated the pace, overhauling research policies and procedures, increasing and improving education and quality assurance activities, adopting IRBNet as their electronic research oversight management system, applying for AAHRPP accreditation, and reinvesting in excellence.

Since that time Baystate has not only achieved each of these goals, but has evolved to become a premier research organization, exhibiting exceptional performance improvement in key research oversight measures such as a 41% increase of efficiency during IRB reviews and a 35% reduction in investigator errors.   Every change effort needs an outstanding leader to be the driving force for excellence, and in this case Karen Christianson is that leader. For these reasons Christianson and the HRPP team from Baystate Health are the recipients of the 4th annual IRBNet Ethics in Human Research Protection Award.

"Baystate Health is dedicated to superior patient care and the highest ethics in human subject protection in research," said Karen Christianson.  "Our entire research community – the investigators, study coordinators, research staff, research oversight staff and the review members overseeing the research – are proud to pull together to serve this mission with partners like IRBNet." 

Mr. Olmsted elaborated, "IRBNet is a dedicated partner in the advancement of ethical human subject research management. We strive to continuously improve research management and compliance oversight solutions for the global research community through the many tools available online on the National Research Network®. IRBNet is proud to work with Karen, Baystate Health and all of our National Research Network members as they strive for excellence in the pursuit of ever greater ethics in human subject research protection."

Past winners of this award include (2008) Elizabeth Bankert, Assistant Vice Provost, Dartmouth College, (2009) Paul Garfinkel, Director of the Nemours Office for Human Subjects Protection, and (2010) Judy Matuk, Assistant Vice President for Research Compliance at Stony Brook University (SUNY).

About IRBNet

IRBNet offers the world's leading and most widely used electronic solution for managing research compliance for institutions of any size, with more than 1600 large, medium and small research institutions, boards and research sites registered on the National Research Network®. National Research Network members benefit from secure online access to comprehensive research oversight tools anywhere, anytime, including real-time collaboration between investigators and institutions anywhere in the world. The National Research Network Enterprise Portal further enables institutions to navigate the complex federal ethics compliance requirements governing human, animal, and recombinant DNA research, while seamlessly managing Conflict of Interest, Sponsored Programs and other critical research oversight activities. The IRBNet Ethics in Human Research Protection Award celebrates leadership in the field.

IRBNet and National Research Network are marks of Research Dataware, LLC. All rights are reserved and no use of the marks is permitted without the express written consent of Research Dataware, LLC.

For further information on IRBNet, please visit or email

About Baystate Health

Baystate Health, based in Springfield, MA, is a private, not-for-profit health system - one of the largest in New England - serving a population of 800,000 residents in western Massachusetts. Recognized nationally for quality and safety, it is the region's largest private employer and includes its flagship, Baystate Medical Center, the region's only academic medical center, as well as Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware, Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice, and several health centers and numerous medical practices.   Please visit us at:

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