West Virginia University has been awarded three-year accreditation for its Human Subjects Protection program from the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs Inc. (AAHRPP). The accreditation came after years of preparation by WVU faculty and staff.

AAHRPP is a nonprofit, peer-driven educational model of accreditation for organizations engaged in research involving human participants. The association works with organizations that conduct human research to raise the level of protection for research participants and to promote ethically sound research.

To date, 129 organizations representing more than 550 entities have earned AAHRPP accreditation. Forty-two percent of the nations research-intensive universities and 36 percent of U.S. medical schools are now accredited.

This accreditation is a testament to the hundreds of individuals who work diligently to ensure those who volunteer to participate in WVU research are protected,said Curt Peterson, interim vice president for research and economic development.

WVUs Human Subjects Protection program encompasses all University research involving humans. This includes student projects, clinical trials and some science education research projects, just to name a few.

The Human Subjects Protection program monitors an average of 600 active studies being conducted in nearly every discipline and college at the University,said Charles R. Craig, director of WVU s Office of Research Compliance.The program is responsible for protecting the rights, dignity, welfare and privacy of human research subjects.

The program includes two institutional review boards for protection of human research subjects, each made up of 15-20 individuals who meet on a monthly basis to ensure that human subject research at WVU conforms to federal regulations. WVU research activities that involve human subjects, regardless of the level of risk anticipated, require review and approval prior to the initiation of the activity.

Accreditation holds organizations to the highest standards of protection, so each accreditation marks another milestone for research participants and for all of us who are committed to safe, ethical, excellent research,said Marjorie A. Speers, AAHRPP president and CEO .

As more organizations attain accreditation, participants will be able to consider accreditation status when deciding whether to participate in a particular research study,she added.Participants will have more options, and organizations will have even more incentive to pursue AAHRPP accreditation.

AAHRPPs standards exceed federal regulations by requiring organizations to address conflict of interest, to provide community outreach and education and to apply the same stringent protections to all research involving human participants.