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  

Learn more about COVID-19 and human subjects research.

Revised standards for Human Subjects-Related Research Visits during COVID-19

The Revised Standards for Human Subjects Research were updated November 20, 2020.  Given the rapid acceleration of the prevalence of COVID-19, effective November 23 for the College of Medicine and all Penn State Health sites, studies involving in-person interaction with participants with no direct drug or device therapeutic benefit must pause. Research interactions with participants such as telephone contact, remote monitoring, or remote data collection may continue. Any observational study (whether inpatient or outpatient) that requires any additional in-person contact with subjects must be postponed until further notice.     

All research that can be conducted remotely (via phone, Zoom, etc. – see FAQs) should be conducted remotely.  

The IRB program is operating remotely but at full capacity.

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

1:30 PM

Pre-registration is required. This training will provide an overview of how to prepare an IRB submission via CATS IRB. This course... more

via Zoom
10:00 AM

The IRB Protocol provides step-by-step guidance on how to develop a protocol for submission to the IRB. This training focuses on the... more

via Zoom
2:00 PM

Pre-registration is required. This training will provide an overview of how to prepare an IRB submission via CATS IRB. This course... more

via Zoom