Learn about the history of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Ursinus College members.

History of IRB

Based on the work of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research (1974-1978), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revised and expanded its regulations for the protection of human subjects 45 CFR part 46 in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

In 1978, the Commission’s report “Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research” was published. It was named the Belmont Report, for the Belmont Conference Center, where the National Commission met when first drafting the report.

The Belmont Report explains the unifying ethical principles that form the basis for the National Commission’s topic-specific reports and the regulations that incorporate its recommendations. The Belmont Report identifies three fundamental ethical principles for all human subject research – respect for persons, beneficence, and justice. Those principles remain the basis for the HHS human subject protection regulations.

In 1991, 14 other Federal departments and agencies joined HHS in adopting a uniform set of rules for the protection of human subjects, identical to subpart A of 45 CFR part 46 of the HHS regulations. This uniform set of regulations is the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, informally known as the “Common Rule.”

Today, the Belmont Report continues as an essential reference for institutional review boards (IRBs) that review HHS-conducted or -supported human subject research proposals involving human subjects, in order to ensure that the research meets the ethical foundations of the regulations.


The Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College appoints the membership of Ursinus College’s Institutional Review Board.

In order to meet federal guidelines and to ensure diversity, the membership must include at least 5 members of varying backgrounds. There must be at least one member whose primary concerns are in scientific areas and at least one member whose primary concerns are in nonscientific areas. There must also be at least one external member not affiliated with Ursinus College. Each member will serve a term of no less than 3 years. If a member is scheduled for leave or sabbatical, a substitute with a similar background will be appointed for the period of the leave. All members must complete IRB training, as outlined in the training section of this policy.

A member will not participate in the Board’s initial or continuing review of any project in which the member has a conflicting interest, except to provide information requested.

An IRB may, in its discretion, invite individuals with competence in special areas to assist in the review of issues which require expertise beyond or in addition to that available on the IRB. These individuals may not vote.

Current Members

  • Joel Bish - Psychology - IRB Chair
  • Nicole Smith - Administrative Coordinator
  • Patrick Hurley - Environmental Studies
  • Gerard Fitzpatrick - Politics
  • Kelly Sorensen - Philosophy & Religion
  • Justin Bartolomucci - Community Member