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What Type of Study Does Each of the Five IRBs Review?


Overview of committee assignment of IRB protocols


Each of the five IRBs specialize in certain types of research. Studies are assigned based on the following:

  • The primary criteria is the Principal Investigator's home department (see descriptions of committees below); and
  • Also taken into consideration are the type of study based on the protocol's hypothesis or research question (social behavioral or biomedical) and the types of study procedures being used (see examples and notes below).

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General description of each IRB


  • North General IRB (NGIRB) reviews research from the College of Letters & Science and the Professional Schools.
  • South General IRB (SGIRB) reviews social-behavioral research from the Schools of Public Health, Nursing, and Medicine.
  • Medical IRB1 (MIRB1) reviews general and internal medicine, infectious diseases, and dental and ophthalmologic research.
  • Medical IRB2 (MIRB2) reviews oncology, hematology, pathology, and radiological sciences research.
  • Medical IRB3 (MIRB3) reviews neuroscience, neurology, psychiatric, drug abuse, and related behavioral science research.

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Distinctions between biomedical and social behavioral research


Biomedical research

Biomedical research refers to the study of specific diseases and conditions (mental or physical), including detection, cause, prophylaxis, treatment and rehabilitation of persons; the design of methods, drugs and devices used to diagnose, support and maintain the individual during and after treatment for specific diseases or conditions; and/or the scientific investigation required to understand the underlying life processes which affect disease and human well-being, including such areas as cellular and molecular bases of diseases, genetics, immunology. This research is typically quantitative and not qualitative.  Biomedical research is often patient-oriented and the research involves:

  • Studies of mechanisms of human disease
  • Studies of therapies or interventions for disease
  • Clinical trials (see UCLA ResearchGO for definitions of clinical trial)
  • Studies to develop new technology related to disease


Social-behavioral research

Social-behavioral research refers broadly to research that deals with human attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors and is often characterized by data collection methods such as questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, direct or participant observation, and non-invasive physical measurements. The research may be qualitative or quantitative. Social-behavioral research also includes epidemiological or outcomes research and health services research:

  • Epidemiological and behavioral studies: These types of studies examine the distribution of disease, the factors that affect health, and how people make health-related decisions.
  • Outcomes and health services research: These studies seek to identify the most effective and most efficient interventions, treatments, and services.


Important Notes:

  • Social-behavioral studies that involve the use of drugs or devices, radiation and radiolabeled tracers, and other invasive procedures require review by a medical IRB.
  • Retrospective and prospective medical chart reviews are assigned to the South General IRB.
  • Prospective collection of biological specimens (e.g., blood, saliva) and/or collection of data via non-invasive measures (e.g. magnetic resonance imaging without the use of radiotracers, tests of sensory acuity, electrocardiography) that are usually considered clinical in nature may be reviewed by one of the general campus committees if:
    • The purpose of the research is primarily social-behavioral in nature;

    • The physiological interventions are sufficiently benign as to involve no more than minimal risk to subjects; and

    • The research otherwise fits the descriptions of one of the campus rather than medical committees.

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Page Last Updated: April 23, 2019