2013 Webinar: Convergence of Biomedical and Social/Behavioral Research

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There is growing overlap between biomedical and social, behavioral, and educational research (SBER), and conventional wisdom about the distinction between these two research domains is outdated and progressively misleading. Applications submitted for institutional review board (IRB) approval often combine both types of studies, and research teams frequently include both biomedical and social/behavioral researchers. The future of research is increasingly interdisciplinary, and IRBs are advised to prepare their application triage systems as well as review panels accordingly.

Risk/benefit assessment becomes especially complicated by the overlap of these two domains. To appropriately assess the risk and benefit in any given application, IRBs must have relevant expertise; this is applicable to full board and especially to expedited reviews. Traditionally, IRB offices are tasked with triaging applications to biomedical or SBE panels to ensure sufficient knowledge in the respective domain to conduct appropriate and efficient reviews. When the research crosses disciplinary domains, however, it may be unclear which panel has the requisite expertise.

Presenters used case studies from their work as investigators, IRB members, and ethics consultants in interdisciplinary research with references to regulatory frameworks. Examples of risk/benefit assessment and IRB triage of interdisciplinary applications included:

  • Social scientist's use of electronic medical records for research
  • Use of medical records as sample frames for traditional survey research
  • Physicians conducting survey research
  • Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and tissue bank data linked to survey data
  • fMRI research of (social) psychologists and others
  • Research involving twins
  • Kinesiology/exercise science research


This intermediate-level webinar is of interest to IRB chairs, managers, staff, and members who work in both biomedical and social/behavioral research, as well as to researchers.


Monika S. Markowitz, PhD, MA, MSN, RN
Monika S. Markowitz is the director of the office of research integrity and ethics in the office of the vice president for research at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Monika directs the research conflict of interests program, chairs the conflict of interests (COI) committee, and serves as the research integrity officer for VCU. She currently serves as a research ethics and regulatory consultant and educational resource for the human research protection program (HRPP), and previously served as co-investigator for National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants on research subject compensation and responsible conduct of research (RCR) mentoring. Monika’s clinical background is in pediatric critical care nursing. Her PhD is in biomedical/religious ethics from the University of Virginia.  She is a longtime presenter at PRIM&R conferences, Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP), AAMC Forum on Conflict of Interests in Academe, the Virginia IRB Consortium, and the Richmond Bioethics Consortium in addition to many other presentation and conference forums. Monika also serves as an AAHRPP site visitor.

J. Michael Oakes, PhD
J. Michael Oakes is an associate professor in the division of epidemiology, and co-director of the US Census Research Data Center, at the University of Minnesota (UMN). He co-chairs UMN’s HRPP and SBER and student research panels, and serves as the vice chair of the UMN COI committee. He is a fellow of the Minnesota Population Research Center, adjunct professor of sociology, and senior advisor to the Robert Wood Johnson’s Healthy Eating Research program. Michael’s professional interests center on statistical methodology, social epidemiology, and research ethics. He is an active researcher and frequent principal investigator on a wide variety of studies of methodological, health, and ethical problems. He has authored over 85 papers on issues at the intersection of social and medical sciences; his first text, Methods in Social Epidemiology, was released in 2006.

Certificates of Attendance

Certificates of Attendance
Certificates of Attendance for the Convergence of Biomedical and Social/Behavioral Research: Implications for IRBs and Investigators webinar will be made available at the conclusion of the webinar.  To access the certificate, you must first complete the online evaluation. Such certificates are useful for obtaining continuing education (CE) credits (not Continuing Medical Education credits) from professional associations. Note that guidelines concerning CE credits may differ, and you should consult the appropriate professional association representative for further guidance.

CE Credit for Certified IRB Professional (CIP®) Recertification
Webinar participants holding the CIP credential who wish to apply credits from Convergence of Biomedical and Social/Behavioral Research: Implications for IRBs and Investigators toward CIP recertification may submit the Certificate of Attendance they received upon completing the online evaluation as documentation of their participation. Participation in this 90-minute webinar counts as 1.5 CE credit hours.

For recertification by CE, CIPs must complete 30 documented hours of continuing education. At least 15 of the 30 hours must either carry credits issued by a recognized accrediting body or have received advanced recognition from the Council for Certification of IRB Professionals (CCIP). Credits from PRIM&R webinars have received such advance recognition, and may be counted towards these 15 hours.

Additional information about CIP recertification can be found here.