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Institutional Review Board

On behalf of Thomas University, the primary role of the Thomas University Institutional Review Board (IRB) is to advise on the ethical standards of those conducting research using humans or vertebrate animals, and biological or biomedical research involving Recombinant DNA. The IRB is responsible for safeguarding the rights and welfare of human subjects in any research, development, or related activity, and for assuring proper laboratory practices and the proper care of laboratory or other vertebrate animals used in research conducted by Thomas University faculty and students, or research conducted on behalf of Thomas University in partnership with other universities, external entities, and/or independent researchers.

Please submit all IRB applications to Thomas University’s IRB by emailing the application as an attachment to

+Does My Research Require Review?

All biomedical, social and behavioral research including class projects conducted by the Thomas University faculty, staff and students are subject to the Policies and Procedures of the Institutional Review Board and subject to review. In accordance with Federal regulations and/or Thomas University Institutional Review Board (IRB) policy and institutional governances, researchers may not initiate studies involving human subject participants, vertebrate animal subjects, or Recombinant DNA, until Institutional Review Board approval has been granted in writing. (Institutional Review Board approval may NOT be granted retroactively.) Approval of proposed research is valid for one year upon written notification, as indicated within the IRB Response letter.

+General Information and Research Requirements

Thomas University Institutional Review Board (IRB) requires that all students conducting research involving human subjects complete the online Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program for Human Subjects Research training OR Human Subjects Research Online (HSRO) at the Protecting Human Research Participants (PHRP) website.

Depending upon the discipline, the student should complete Human Subjects Research – Biomedical Basic training OR Human Subjects Research – Social-Behavioral-Educational (SBE) Basic training when completing CITI training courses.

Students performing research involving vertebrate animals are required to complete the Animal Specific Courses (ASC) associated with the vertebrate animal(s) included in their proposed research. In addition, students may be subject to submit the Responsible Use of Laboratory Animals (LA)” – Part 1 and Part 2. These courses are available on the CITI website.

Please submit ALL training certificates with your IRB application by emailing the materials as attachments to

+Instructions for Application Submission and Review

The researcher should first complete either the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program for Human Subjects Research training or Human Subjects Research Online (HSRO) training at the Protecting Human Research Participants (PHRP) website (according to the type of research proposed) prior to submission of their IRB application. A copy of a certificate of completion must accompany the IRB application and will not be reviewed without a certificate of completion for one of these trainings.

Following the completion of the CITI or Human Subjects Research Online (HSRO) Training, an IRB applicant should download, complete, and submit the appropriate IRB application that corresponds to their particular proposed study. A digital copy of the completed application should be emailed to the Thomas University IRB as an attachment. Please email the application to: All Thomas University student applications must contain the original signature of the student’s Division Chairperson or Assigned Faculty Sponsor prior to submission. Please fill out all questions completely in order to expedite review of the application. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed by the IRB.

Faculty Researchers and External Researchers: If the principal researcher is a Thomas University Faculty or an external researcher (including doctoral student candidates), they should submit their application directly to the IRB via email at Additionally, external researchers must also complete and submit IRB Statement of Assurances for External Persons, along with their IRB application.

+Scheduled Meetings and Response Timeframes

The Thomas University IRB meets each second and fourth Monday of the month. To have an IRB application, modification, or addendum reviewed during the scheduled meeting day, the document must be submitted by the Friday before the scheduled meeting day (i.e., Friday prior to the second Monday of the month, or Friday prior to fourth Monday of the month).

Though the IRB employs a state of rigor when reviewing all applications, we do so in a timely and expedient fashion, regardless of the type of research proposed and in accordance to IRB policy and procedures. To that end, all researchers are asked to please allow up to two weeks (10 business days) for Exempt and Expedited IRB application reviews, and up to 4 weeks (20 business days) for a Full IRB Committee review of proposed research. All decisions of the IRB will be returned to the principal investigator in writing in accordance to IRB policy and procedures.

Please email all applications to the Thomas University IRB via

+Key Terminology

Research means a systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. Activities that meet this definition constitute research for purposes of these regulations, whether or not they are supported or funded under a program that is considered research for other purposes. For example, some demonstration and service programs may include research activities.(45 CFR 46.102 d).

Human Subject
Human subject means a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual; and/or identifiable private information (45 CFR 46.102f).

Vulnerable Populations
Vulnerable populations include minors, pregnant women, human fetuses, human neonates, prisoners (detainees, parolees), institutionalized persons, mentally disabled or handicapped persons.

Minimal Risk
Minimal risk is the probability and magnitude of physical or psychological harm that is normally encountered in the daily lives, or in the routine medical, dental, or psychological examination of healthy persons. That is, the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests. (45 CFR 46.102 (i) and 46.303 (d)

IRB Approval
IRB approval means the determination of the Thomas University Institutional Review Board that the research that has been proposed and reviewed may be conducted at the institution or within the proposed venue external to Thomas University as described in the proposal (as subject to the approval of the usage of the proposed external venue by the external venue’s governing body) within the constraints set forth by the Thomas University Institutional Review Board and by other institutional or federal, state, or local regulations or requirements as they relate specifically to the research under scrutiny. All approved research will receive IRB Certification (see definition) of that approval.

Full Committee Review
A full committee review is a procedure for research that does not qualify for an expedited review (see definition) that occurs during convened Institutional Review Board meetings at which the majority of IRB members (a quorum) are present, including at least one member whose primary concerns are in non-scientific areas. In order for the research to be approved, it will receive the approval of the majority of those members present at the meeting. (45 CFR 46.108 a-b)

Expedited Review Defined
An expedited review is a procedure for certain kinds of research involving no more than minimal risk to subjects that participate in the research study or project under scrutiny. The expedited review procedure is used to review one or both of the following types of research or similar activities:

  • Minor changes in previously approved research during the period (of one year or less) for which approval is authorized (See Addendum and Amendment form for IRB Research Proposal and Application) (Appendix K); or
  • Some or all of the research appearing on the US Department of Health and Human Services Federal Register list of categories of research that may be reviewed by the IRB through an expedited review procedure.

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