UNLV achieves AAHRPP accreditation for Human Research Protection Program

Research Protection Recognition

The University of Nevada?—?Las Vegas (UNLV) recently received accreditation by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP). In so doing, AAHRPP recognized UNLV as an “experienced, accomplished research institution,” according to a UNLV press release. The announcement of the accreditation came at the December meeting of AAHRPP’s Council on Accreditation.

The university stated that it has a “robust research program that engages faculty, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students and undergraduate students across 17 colleges and schools.” The AAHRPP accreditation acknowledges UNLV’s expertise and proficiency in the execution of human subjects research, as well as the university’s capacity to meet AAHRPP’s challenging standards. The awarding of this credential is expected to be beneficial for the university as it seeks chances for new research funding.

In the last decade, UNLV’s human subjects research has accelerated a great deal. The total of institutional review board protocols reviewed to protect human subjects who are participating in the university’s research projects has risen by 20 percent. Because of the 2017 addition of the UNLV School of Medicine and new clinical research studies that are likely to result from the projects conducted by the medical school, UNLV expects that these figures will “escalate even more dramatically,” the university said. UNLV is rising among the nation’s top public research institutions, having recently earned a place among the top three percent of all U.S. universities by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, according to the university.

AAHRPP is designed to promote “high-quality, ethically sound research” through a rigorous accreditation process that aids organizations worldwide in strengthening their human research protection programs. AAHRPP, an independent, nonprofit accrediting body, utilizes a voluntary, peer-driven, educational model to ascertain that human research protection programs meet very high standards for quality and protection. In order to achieve this accreditation, organizations need to offer tangible evidence?—?by means of policies, procedures and practices?—?of their “commitment to scientifically and ethically sound research and to continuous improvement.” As the “gold seal,” AAHRPP accreditation assures all stakeholders?—?research participants, researchers, sponsors, government regulators and the general public?—?that human research protection programs are “focused first and foremost on excellence,” AAHRPP said.

AAHRPP was founded in 2001 in response to calls to strengthen protections for research participants. The organization has accredited more than 250 organizations during that time. To earn AAHRPP accreditation, organizations must demonstrate that they have a high-quality, comprehensive human research protection program (HRPP) and that their commitment to research participants permeates the entire organization. This emphasis on a comprehensive, systematic approach to research protections has been said to play a key role in the fundamental shift to organization-wide responsibility for research ethics and oversight. A 2015 AAHRPP survey of accredited organizations has found that AAHRPP is having a positive impact on HRPPs, with 91 percent of the respondents reporting that their overall HRPP has improved as a result of having achieved AAHRPP accreditation.

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