Pre-review committee will examine COVID-19 proposals

May 26, 2020

Image with caption: Jennifer Larsen, M.D., vice chancellor of research

Jennifer Larsen, M.D., vice chancellor of research

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research has established a new requirement, in collaboration with the Institutional Review Board, for investigators to submit their ideas to the newly formed Pre-Review of COVID-Related Research Committee, which will meet weekly.

"There are many new opportunities, as well as a great need for additional research regarding COVID-19, whether it is its impact on our patients, best strategies for prevention, or its impact on our students, health care providers and personnel, and other community members at risk," said Jennifer Larsen, M.D., vice chancellor for research. "But it is also important that projects don't conflict with each other, and that our clinical partners, Nebraska Medicine, Children's Hospital & Medical Center, and the Omaha VA Hospital, are aware of projects being considered."

The committee will ensure that UNMC's COVID-19 research efforts are coordinated so as to have the most positive impact.

"This also is an opportunity for connecting investigators with each other if they are proposing similar projects," she said.

This process already has captured existing projects to compare with new projects being proposed and reviewed. Some research includes contractual obligations that subjects cannot participate in more than one study at a time, so the review evaluates how similar the populations are that they hope to recruit from, and projects may be prioritized based on those characteristics.

Researchers should submit new COVID-related proposals, whether externally or internally funded, through the UNMC COVID Study Request Form. Both the committee and the investigator will automatically get a copy of what was submitted, and a review session will be established once it is received.

Researchers can submit the IRB application simultaneously, so as not to slow down the process, but the IRB will not provide final approval of the proposal until the committee's review and approval.

David Brett-Major, M.D., professor of epidemiology in the UNMC College of Public Health and an infectious diseases physicians, will chair this committee, and Yuning Zhang, Ph.D., newly hired as the biomedical informatics navigator, will help with project management. Either can be contacted with questions.

"UNMC has always been about collaboration. It has never been more important to coordinate our research efforts and work as teams to preserve precious protective equipment necessary for both care and clinical research while achieving our goals sooner," Dr. Larsen said. "I appreciate the time and efforts of Dr. Brett-Major, Dr. Zhang, and members of my staff that established the databases and review forms, and all the members of the pre-review committee. There are many who have committed their precious time for the success of all."

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