2014 Webinar: Working Through Conflict

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Institutional review board (IRB) personnel are responsible for ensuring that the IRB functions smoothly. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are vital for performing this job well and collaborating effectively with investigators. 

Friction between researchers and the IRB can be challenging. Some investigators view IRBs as obstacles, and some IRB staff take on the role of the gatekeeper; these approaches can create tension and conflict.

Through the use of concrete examples, presenters provided strategies for effective verbal and written communication between IRBs and investigators. In this session, faculty and attendees:

  • Reviewed clear, concise, and tactful strategies for delivering information to investigators
  • Explored the skills needed to diffuse frustration and resolve conflicts in a professional manner
  • Identified mistakes commonly made in communication on sensitive matters
  • Discussed strategies for using email more effectively to transmit IRB findings and stipulations 
  • Focused on the common goals of IRBs and investigators to increase cooperation 

This intermediate level webinar was of interest to IRB administrators and staff.  


Helen Panageas, CIP, is the associate director of the IRB at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine (SoM). Ms. Panageas gained her extensive experience through various areas of research administration, including grant management and development of the IRB administrative offices. Prior to NYU SoM she held positions at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, and Winthrop University Hospital.

Ms. Panageas holds a bachelor’s degree dual major english and political science and is currently completing her Master’s in health administration; she is also a Certified IRB Professional. An active member of PRIM&R, Ms. Panageas served on the Planning Committees of the 2012 and 2013 Advancing Ethical Research Conferences.

Ms. Panageas is a frequent speaker at national and local conferences addressing human subject protection regulations and administrative process. The NYU SoM IRB Research Ethics Symposium of 2008, 2010 and 2011 were developed under her direction. Helen is currently overseeing the implementation of a new electronic submission system and the IRB's education and training programs targeting individual needs of researchers, IRB members, and IRB staff. 

Suzanne Rivera, PhD, MSW, is associate vice president for research at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). Dr. Rivera has broad responsibility for the research enterprise at CWRU, including development of research policy, pre- and post-award management of sponsored projects, scientific integrity, compliance with research regulations, and education of faculty and students regarding the responsible conduct of research. She also is an assistant professor in the department of bioethics.  Nationally, Dr. Rivera serves as an appointed member of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections, and as an elected member of the Board of the National Council of University Research Administrators. 

Prior to arriving at CWRU, Dr. Rivera served as vice president for research administration at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and before that, she was the Director of Research Protections in the Office of Research Administration at the University of California-Irvine.

Before entering higher education management, Dr. Rivera spent several years at the DHHS in the San Francisco Regional Office, first as a Presidential Management Intern, and later as a Program Specialist with the Administration for Children and Families.

Dr. Rivera holds a BA from Brown University, a Master of Social Welfare degree from UC Berkeley, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Affairs (health policy emphasis) from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Certificates of Attendance

Certificates of attendance for the Working through Conflict: Helping IRB Staff Communicate Effectively with Investigators webinar were 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.

If you would like to receive a certificate of attendance for a previous PRIM&R educational program, please email info@primr.org or call 617.423.4112, ext. 0.

CE Credit for Certified IRB Professional (CIP®) Recertification
Webinar participants holding the CIP credential who wish to apply credits from Working through Conflict: Helping IRB Staff Communicate Effectively with 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.