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July 2019 HSPO update: Updates to Penn State’s IRB program

Investigators conducting research with people – whether surveys or clinical trials, secondary data analysis or educational interventions – work with Penn State’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) Program. The IRBs work to protect the rights and welfare of research participants and ensure that Penn State research meets all applicable regulations.

The University has centralized oversight responsibility of the University’s IRBs with Candice Yekel, associate vice president of research and director of the Office for Research Protections. With this centralization, the Human Subjects Protection Office (HSPO) at Penn State College of Medicine now reports to Yekel.

“Penn State strives for continuity across the Commonwealth campuses. By standardizing our reviews, researchers will better know what to expect – whether they’re conducting their research at the College of Medicine, Penn State Health and its components or University Park. This change for the IRB programs furthers our mission to provide excellent service to our researchers and our research participants,” Yekel said.

While there will be changes in organizational structure in the Human Subjects Protection Office in the coming months, this transition should not significantly impact investigators. As institutional official, Yekel has appointed Wayne Patterson, PhD, experienced consultant from HRP Consulting, as the HSPO interim director. A search for a permanent director will soon be underway. Kathy Hay continues to serve as the IRB program director, and Rebecca Hale is HSPO assistant director.

“The majority of changes will be behind the scenes, so researchers don’t need to do anything in response. That said, I welcome any feedback, and researchers are always welcome to contact us with questions,” Yekel said.

Feedback can be sent to

This change further fulfills Penn State’s stated goal to be “one university, geographically distributed.”

Upcoming IRB workshops

See a list of upcoming IRB workshops here.

For details

For questions regarding IRB/HSPO updates, please email the College of Medicine Human Subjects Protection Office at

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