25 Years: Evolving to Meet Our Clients’ Needs

 

Quorum: 25 Years2016 marks the 25th anniversary of Quorum Review IRB. When Quorum started in 1991 our founders added the values of customer service and consistent performance to the essential IRB role of ensuring the safety of people who joined human experiments. Those values have sustained us and protected people in research while advancing scientific knowledge.

As part of our silver anniversary, we have developed a mission statement we feel is true to our legacy and to what we do today.

The Quorum Mission

Protect study participants through the highest quality reviews, build a community dedicated to the well-being of all people and drive research forward together.

 

Supporting Research Through Multiple Board Panels

In our last post we talked about how we contribute to our mission by accommodating expanded access to experimental treatments.

In this installment we look at our clinical research clients and how we have balanced rising expectations for performance with our high standards of ethical review, regulatory oversight, and participant protection. These priorities come together harmoniously in our IRB board room.

Review panels and the people who comprise them lie at the heart of our operation.

At Quorum, the deadlines around board meetings define our daily and weekly schedules. Since our beginnings we have sought to minimize processing time and maximize the IRB members’ time with the materials. The faster move documents, the longer our IRB members have to assess their content. Document specialists rely on multiple deadlines throughout the day; consent form editors face tight deadlines for their work; and IRB managers use a workload point score to match board member attendance with a meeting’s agenda. For us, it’s a zero-sum game: the less time we spend processing, the more time a reviewer has to study the agenda, and the less time a customer has to wait for a response.

When Quorum started reviewing research in 1991, its first board met once or twice a week, and we promised to mail formal decisions within three days of the meeting. Those performance standards worked in the 1990s, but times and expectations change (even while our commitment to protecting participants hasn’t). Today we have board meetings on a daily basis and can post formal decisions within hours.

The composition of our board panels has evolved over the years, though we maintain the same standards of quality we always have.

Our first board had six members and met in Seattle. Today, over 40 people comprise four panels which convene in Seattle, Washington; Vancouver, Canada; and Cambridge, Massachusetts. As the research community’s needs evolve, we refine the roles our panels serve.

The Seattle panel primarily reviews new protocols, new consent forms, and all supporting documentation.

We created the North American panel when we saw that one review for two countries would support clinical trials as they became increasingly international.

Our Daily panel reviews fast-developing issues in ongoing studies—such as protocol amendments—two times a day.

Our Cambridge Oncology panel focuses on the complex but vital elements of cancer research.

In our early days we sent hard-copy agendas and approval documents—dozens of pages at a time—around the country. Today our board members can see the agenda as soon as it is posted to an internal portal, and customers can call up approval documents from anywhere in the world the moment we post them. We have cut our delivery standard from mailing documents three days after a decision to posting them same-day, sometimes within hours.

Our processes have changed and our board has grown, but our commitment to customer service, to improving the well-being of all, and to moving research forward, has not.

 

Silver Anniversary Series

In the coming weeks, look for future blog articles as we celebrate 25 years of excellence in ethical research.

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