Institutional Review Board

Protecting Research Participants

Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs symbolAn Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a federally mandated entity that oversees the protection of human subjects in research. At Penn State, an IRB must review all research involving human subjects, and the research cannot begin until the IRB has reached a determination. This is true even if a researcher perceives there are no risks for people who participate in his or her research as it is the role of the IRB to mitigate potential risks to participants, including their physical and psychological well-being, confidentiality and privacy, and autonomy, among others.  

The IRB consists of faculty, staff, and community members appointed by the Associate Vice President for Research. The IRB must have at least one member serving on the board who is not employed or affiliated with the University or has an immediate family member employed or affiliated with the University.

News and Announcements  

Effective March 15, 2020: Revised standards for Human Subjects-Related Research Visits during COVID-19

In the context of rapidly evolving circumstances regarding COVID-19, and the University’s focus on social distancing and the health and well-being of the community, the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, in consultation with Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Medicine, has issued these revised standards related to human subjects-related research visits.  In summary, research visits should be performed remotely (e.g., by phone or Zoom) whenever possible.  Studies involving face-to-face interaction with participants with no direct drug or device therapeutic benefit are to be postponed until further notice. See the Penn State COVID-19 webpage for University updates.

The IRB program is operating remotely but at full capacity. Learn more on COVID-19 and human subjects research here.

Getting Started

Learn if an IRB submission is required for your study and answer your questions about preparing submissions, required training, and the CATS IRB by reviewing our guides, videos, and training opportunities found under Training and Resources. The IRB 5 Basic Steps are a good starting point for a quick overview of the IRB submission process.

IRB Analysts

IRB Analysts are staff who help investigators prepare a submission for approval. At University Park, analysts are assigned based on the first initial of the PI’s last name. Please contact the appropriate IRB Analyst with questions, even if a protocol has not yet been submitted.

Submissions from researchers primarily affiliated with Penn State Health or the Penn State College of Medicine will be assigned to the  Human Subjects Protection Office (HSPO) program staff. 

Future Participants

Find research studies accepting volunteers through Penn State’s StudyFinder website.


Penn State IRBs

Penn State has one IRB program and two IRB offices. The Office for Research Protections supports researchers at University Park and all other Penn State campus locations, except the College of Medicine. The Human Subjects Protection Office (HSPO) provides support for researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health. 

Federal Wide Assurance (FWA) and IRB Registration

Penn State has an approved FWA with the Department of Health & Human Services. This Assurance is for University Park and all campus locations with the exception of the College of Medicine and Penn State Health, which has different FWA numbers for their respective IRBs.

  • University Park: FWA00001534
  • The expiration date for this assurance changes frequently. If you need the expiration date, please visit, enter the FWA Number above, and click “Search.”

The PSU IRB is registered also with the Department of Health & Human Services.

  • University Park HHS Registration Number: IRB00000192
Click here to complete the IRB feedback survey at


Upcoming Events

9:00 AM

Pre-registration is required. The CATS IRB system is what Penn State's uses to manage the lifecylce of human subject research... more

3:00 PM

Pre-registration is required. The CATS IRB system is what Penn State's uses to manage the lifecylce of human subject research... more