Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

AEREO: The Consortium to Advance Effective Research Ethics Oversight

Mission & Vision

The AEREO Consortium's mission is to improve the effectiveness of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and Human Research Protection Programs (HRPPs) in fulfilling their purpose of appropriately protecting the rights and welfare of research participants and achieving other ethical goals. To advance this mission, the Consortium seeks to:

  1. Define outcomes related to these goals, beyond measures relevant to organizational structure and process;
  2. Empirically evaluate whether and to what extent the current system of research ethics review and oversight is effective in achieving these outcomes; and
  3. Develop empirically-informed policies and best practices to promote effective research ethics review and oversight.

The Consortium's vision is a learning system of research ethics review and oversight in which there is a commitment to a cycle of continuous and collaborative data collection about what is and is not effective, evaluation and dissemination of those data, and application to practice to improve research ethics outcomes.

Goals of Research Ethics Review and Oversight

In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the research ethics review and oversight system, and measure any improvements or outstanding concerns, it is essential to specify the system's goals. For purposes of the Consortium's work, we specify the system's most important goals to include:

  • Protecting the rights and welfare of research participants
  • Promoting justice in the practice and outcomes of human subjects research at the level of the study population and population at large
  • Fostering a culture of ethical concern among researchers and institutions
  • Maintaining and promoting trust in the research enterprise
  • Promoting socially valuable, scientifically valid, ethical research

Approach

The Consortium brings together leaders in human subjects research oversight, research ethics, and empirical methods to collaboratively develop and carry out a research agenda to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of research ethics review and oversight by HRPPs and IRBs. Together, Consortium members will collect and analyze descriptive data across multiple institutions and settings, conduct survey and interview studies of relevant stakeholders, test novel interventions and approaches to enhance effectiveness, and make recommendations for best policies and practices. Although the Consortium’s initial focus is on the effectiveness of IRBs and HRPPs responsible for complying with U.S. regulations, we expect research findings to also have relevance internationally.