Joan_Rachlin_AwardLifetime Achievement Award - Joan Rachlin, JD, MPH

The Board of Directors selected PRIM&R’s executive director, Joan Rachlin, JD, MPH, to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Research Ethics.

One would be hard pressed to find another professional in the field of research ethics who has done more in the last 39 years to “disseminate” the ethical principles that govern research in this country. Ms. Rachlin’s career spans the evolution of the field of research ethics. She came to PRIM&R in 1975, a year after the passage of the National Research Act and the establishment of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. During her first decade at PRIM&R, the public was grappling with the revelation of the US Public Health Service Syphilis Study in Tuskegee, The Belmont Report was published, and human research regulations were advancing. During her second decade, significant amendments were made to the Animal Welfare Act, The Common Rule was adopted by 16 federal agencies, and the Radiation Experiments were exposed. During her third decade at PRIM&R, AIDS activists and cancer survivors radically changed the public’s view of human subjects research, from an ominous enterprise to be feared to a hopeful opportunity for saving lives. Ironically, the terrible tragedy of Jesse Gelsinger’s death also occurred during that decade, spawning widespread recognition of the urgency for effective education in research ethics and the responsible conduct of research. And during Ms. Rachlin’s fourth decade of service, the internet and other technological advances dramatically altered the way research is conducted, giving rise to new ethical problems that were difficult to accommodate within a regulatory framework developed in a previous century.

With near clairvoyance, Ms. Rachlin understood the need for research ethics education from the start of her career with PRIM&R. She organized PRIM&R’s first educational conference in 1977, and fueled by the events of these decades, never relented in her quest to offer more and better educational programming during each of the years that followed. Ms. Rachlin’s passion and leadership in developing and providing this education was singular. Through her extraordinary efforts, force of will, and commitment, PRIM&R came to fill a unique role in the emerging field of research ethics education. PRIM&R educational programs provide both ethics and practical tools for the application of ethical principles. In this manner, PRIM&R’s programs and membership services have had an extraordinary impact on the field.

It is not possible to describe in a paragraph the achievements of a lifetime, but here are a few highlights. Over the course of her tenure at PRIM&R, Ms. Rachlin planned and organized more than 200 conferences and educational events, as well as produced and distributed their proceedings. In collaboration with two of PRIM&R’s Board members, she produced a CD-ROM for research scientists, Investigator 101, the rights to which were acquired by the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) for distribution to every major academic health center and university in the country. Under Ms. Rachlin’s stewardship, PRIM&R developed its highly acclaimed educational programs, for both IRB and IACUC professionals, including IRB 101sm, IRB Administrator 101, and Essentials of IACUC Administration. She shepherded the development of PRIM&R’s two certification programs, the Certified IRB Professional (CIP®) and the Certified Professional IACUC Administrator (CPIA®) credentials, both of which have successfully certified thousands of research professionals contributing to excellence in their respective fields. One of PRIM&R’s accomplishments in which Ms. Rachlin takes great pride is the growth of its membership from a small group of 61 Charter Members in 1986 to the large and active membership community of today including more than 4,000 research professionals from around the world.

Ms. Rachlin’s work in research ethics education extends beyond PRIM&R. She played a seminal role in the creation of the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP), the first voluntary accreditation program. She developed and launched WISH-net, a website for women and girls interested in, or already pursuing, careers in science and medicine. She served on the faculty of several colleges, where she taught women’s health, health law, and research ethics. Ms. Rachlin is a contributor to the well-known resource, Our Bodies, Ourselves, and serves on its Advisory Board. She is a past member of the editorial board of the journal, IRB: A Review of Human Subjects Research, and of Boston-area IRBs.

And then there are the achievements accumulated before her tenure at PRIM&R. Prior to her full-time commitment to PRIM&R, Ms. Rachlin practiced law, concentrating in the areas of women’s health, civil rights, and criminal and civil litigation. She holds a JD from the Suffolk University School of Law, and an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Anyone who knows Ms. Rachlin recognizes that her greatest passion is to build and nurture relationships, both professional and personal, with an eye toward improving society. She believes that advancement of any kind is achieved through networking, mentoring, collaborating, and celebrating. The PRIM&R community, which largely owes its existence to her efforts, is proud to celebrate Joan and her extraordinary achievements.

PRIM&R’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Ms. Rachlin on November 9 at the 2013 Advancing Ethical Research Conference.

Dan NelsonARENA Legacy Award - Dan Nelson, MSc, CIP

Daniel K. Nelson, MSc, CIP, was selected as the 2013 recipient of the ARENA Legacy Award.

Mr. Nelson is a longtime national, institutional, and organizational leader whose career has been characterized by a passionate and tireless commitment to protecting the rights and welfare of research subjects. One of the many ways in which he has demonstrated this exceptional commitment is through tireless service to PRIM&R, as well as via his generosity in mentoring and supporting countless professionals working in the field.

Mr. Nelson received his bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from Luther College, and his master’s degree in physiology from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Trained in medical physiology, Mr. Nelson has held faculty appointments at the Mayo Clinic and at the University of Rochester, where he was director of research in a clinical gastroenterology unit. He made his first foray into human subjects protections work when he became the IRB chair at a hospital affiliated with the University of Rochester.

Mr. Nelson is currently a professor of social medicine, an adjunct professor of pediatrics, and the director of the Office of Human Research Ethics at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill. Since joining UNC in 1998, he has worked to transform the UNC IRB system from a fragmented, school-based IRB model into a centralized, comprehensive human research protections program that provides IRB oversight for the entire university. On campus, Mr. Nelson is viewed as a leader who has successfully built bridges between the IRB and the research community.

Mr. Nelson is also a co-investigator on several projects, including a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study examining the clinical, ethical, and social questions surrounding the responsible use of whole exome sequencing; a pilot study comparing local and central IRB review; and a project designed to strengthen the bioethical training and research capacity in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In addition to being a hands-on researcher and skilled instructor, Mr. Nelson is an accomplished writer who has made extensive contributions to textbooks, journals, and the news media. Among his publications are: “Obtaining Consent from Both Parents for Pediatric Research: What Does ’Reasonably Available’ Mean?” (Pediatrics, 2013); “IRB Chairs’ Perspectives on Genotype-Driven Research Recruitment” (IRB: Ethics and Human Research, 2012); “Recommendations for Ethical Approaches to Genotype-Driven Research Recruitment” (Human Genetics, 2012); “Researcher Conflict of Interest” and “IRB Member Conflict of Interest” (with E. Bankert and R. Amdur in Institutional Review Board Member Handbook (3rd edition), 2010); and “Getting from A to IRB: Developing an Institutional Review Board at a Historically Black University” (Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 2010).

Given this long and venerable list of high profile and high impact professional activities, it is all the more remarkable that Mr. Nelson has been able and willing to devote so much time to PRIM&R for almost 20 years. He served as the president of ARENA, PRIM&R’s former membership division in 2002; as a member of the Council for Certification of IRB Professionals (CCIP); as faculty for countless PRIM&R programs; and as a member of several of our conference planning committees. Additionally, in 2003, he received PRIM&R’s Special Service Award.

Mr. Nelson’s service to the field extends well beyond his “day job” and PRIM&R activities, as he is also a highly sought after member of innumerable committees and councils for many other nonprofit and governmental organizations. He is a charter member of the AAHRPP Council for Accreditation; consults for the OHRP; was a founding co-chair of the IRB Sponsor Roundtable; and served as a liaison to the National Bioethics Advisory Commission. For the past nine years, he has co-chaired the Subpart A subcommittee of the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP), the body that advises the US Department of Health and Human Services on the regulations that govern human research protections (the "Common Rule").

Beyond his remarkable professional achievements, though, Mr. Nelson is a sterling human being who models wisdom, thoughtfulness, common sense, integrity, and “respect for persons” in all he does. He has worked continuously and energetically to promote the ethical conduct of research, and so many of those working in the field today have been touched by his generous willingness to mentor, support, teach, and otherwise help them.

PRIM&R’s 2013 ARENA Legacy Award was presented to Mr. Nelson on November 7 at the 2013 Advancing Ethical Research Conference.