Northwestern Earns AAHRPP Accreditation

 By Roger Anderson
January 13, 2017

Northwestern University has been awarded the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Program’s (AAHRPP) highest distinction.

The University joins more than 230 global organizations who have earned AAHRPP accreditation, an honor reserved for those institutions that have designed extensive safeguards — exceeding those required by the United States government — into their human research initiatives.

“The AAHRPP accreditation process helps strengthen Northwestern’s human research protection program (HRPP) and verifies — through policies, procedures, and practices — our commitment to scientifically and ethically sound research and to continuous improvement,” says Michelle Brown, Institutional Review Board (IRB) manager. “As the gold standard, AAHRPP accreditation offers assurances — to research participants, researchers, sponsors, government regulators, and the public — that Northwestern’s HRPP is focused first and foremost on excellence.” 

Northwestern’s IRB currently oversees more than 4,000 active protocols. Of these, about 70 percent are biomedical and 30 percent related to the social sciences. The office processes an estimated 1,200 individual submissions per month. 

“Each time a new organization becomes accredited, the global benchmark for human research protection in science is raised,” says Denise Roe, IRB executive director. “AAHRPP accreditation is not something that happens overnight; it’s a time-intensive process and the end result is a testament to the hard work and collaboration taking place at Northwestern.”

The University’s IRB’s leadership team spent several months completing a self-assessment, creating an extensive outline of the University’s research portfolio, and compiling the information into a comprehensive application. A team of AAHRPP experts then reviewed the material and scheduled a three-day site visit to evaluate the University’s performance with respect to the AAHRPP Accreditation Standards. 

AAHRPP’s Council on Accreditation reviewed the information before granting Northwestern full accreditation for three years; at which time, the University will undergo renewal to retain the distinction.

“AAHRPP’s mission is to help ensure robust research participant protections,” says Elyse I. Summers, AAHRPP president and CEO. “We applaud our newly accredited organizations and all organizations and individuals who are committed to the high standards required to attain and maintain AAHRPP accreditation.”

AAHRPP has accredited organizations in 47 US states, and in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, and Thailand. All major US independent institutional review boards have earned AAHRPP accreditation.