Debra Thurley named new leader for the Office for Research Protections

Headshot of Debra Thurley.

Role as associate vice president for research, director of research protections will oversee research compliance, education, integrity and quality assurance of research

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Debra Thurley has been named associate vice president for research, director of research protections in the Office for Research Protections (ORP) at Penn State, effective July 24. Thurley, who joined the ORP in 2008, was most recently the ORP’s assistant vice president for research. She will succeed Candy Yekel in the position and will report to the interim senior vice president for research.

“We are thrilled to have Deb in this leadership role; in her time within the Office for Research Protections and prior roles, she exhibited a high degree of knowledge, ethics and leadership which have allowed our Penn State research to excel in various ways. We look forward to her continued success,” stated Andrew Read, interim senior vice president for research at Penn State.

Thurley will provide leadership and oversight of 15 University research compliance and education programs, as well as the University’s research integrity program and the quality assurance program that includes conducting audits of human subjects research. Thurley will also have membership on key University committees, will collaborate closely with key University offices, and will serve as the University policy steward for Research Protections policies.

A 1996 graduate of Penn State, with dual bachelor of science degrees in human development and family studies and in administration of justice, Thurley started her career at Penn State in 2004 in The Bellisario College of Communications. She received her juris doctor degree (J.D.), magna cum laude, in 2001 from Western New England University School of Law. Prior to joining the University, she practiced administrative and regulatory law in Connecticut and general civil and criminal law in Pennsylvania.

Since 2015, Thurley has served as a co-lead of the Research Methods – Regulatory Core for Penn State’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute. She is a member of the Association of American Medical College’s Forum on Conflict of Interest Academe, the National Association of College and University Attorneys, and the Association of Research Integrity Officers (ARIO). Debra is the Secretary for the ARIO Board of Directors and is a member of the Research Ethics and Compliance Committee for the Council of Governmental Relations.

“I am thrilled to continue my career at Penn State and in the Office for Research Protections as the next associate vice president for research and director,” stated Thurley. "For the past 15 years, I have had the great privilege of working every day with caring, experienced, and hard-working colleagues in the ORP and throughout the OSVPR (Office of the Senior Vice President for Research), and with thoughtful, creative and innovative researchers throughout the University. I look forward to continuing to support Penn State’s billion-dollar research enterprise and all the faculty, staff and administrators that make Penn State such a wonderful place to work.”

The Office for Research Protections is Penn State’s home for research ethics and compliance and partners with researchers to maintain the integrity of University research.