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Tribal nations take a look at research review boards

Monday, February 25, 2019

Oklahoma State University Center for Sovereign Nations Research Week roundtable discussion

Representatives from the Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Health Services and OSU Institutional Review Board gathered for an Oklahoma State University Center for Sovereign Nations Research Week function.

The Feb. 20 roundtable discussion focused on how institutional review boards — which protect individuals participating in human research — can work together to make sure they are safeguarding all participants.

“Here at OSU, we approach our research partnerships with tribal nations with humility and respect,” said Dr. Kenneth Sewell, vice president for research. “As sovereign nations, tribal leaders have the right and responsibility to ensure that research conducted within their purview will benefit their people. Our ongoing conversations are a critical part of the partnership.”

A few of the questions discussed during the fourth-annual event included:

• Do you ever wonder whether research projects that come before the OSU IRB should also be presented to sovereign tribal nation board or the Oklahoma City Area Indian Health Service board for approval as well?
• Do you know the protocol for determining whether you need to consult a board?
• Did you know that about 10 percent of OSU undergraduate student body are citizens of sovereign tribal nations, and that including those students in research could trigger the responsibility to protect their human rights and their cultural inheritance?

Tribal attendees included Sohail Khan, director of Health Research and co-chair, Cherokee Nation IRB; Bobby Saunkeah, chair and Human Research Subjects Protections administrator, Chickasaw Nation IRB; Michael Peercy, epidemiologist and IRB administrator, Chickasaw Nation IRB; and Ryan Schupbach, co-chair, Oklahoma City Area Indian Health Service IRB.

“OSU was recognized by the sovereign tribal nation IRBs for our interest in learning more and in working together,” said Elizabeth Payne, director of OSU’s Center for Sovereign Nations. “It is meaningful that the vice president of research, the provost and members of OSU IRB came together to exchange best practices and to develop plans for collaboration between the IRBs.” Around 50 people attended the discussion.

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