ACTSI Part of the SMART IRB Movement to Accelerate Multisite Clinical Studies

ACTSI partners, Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Georgia, are practicing team science and are proud to be part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences’ (NCATS) Streamlined, Multisite, Accelerated Resources for Trials (SMART) Institutional Review Boards (IRB) authorization agreement to help speed the pace of research.

Developing new treatments for diseases often requires large numbers of clinical research participants enrolled in the same study at numerous geographical sites. These multisite clinical trials are well-positioned to discover whether a promising therapeutic is safe and effective, and may provide medical professionals with the information needed for treating their patients. However, the initiation of such studies may be delayed because each site typically relies on its own IRBs to provide ethics reviews of the risks and benefits of the proposed research.

The Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program is leading the effort to streamline this cumbersome process, and all CTSA sites have signed on to the SMART IRB authorization agreement, including the Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute (ACTSI). This agreement, including more than 150 top medical research institutions, will enable all participating study sites to rely on the ethics review of one IRB for each study, making it possible to initiate multisite studies within weeks instead of months. For patients waiting to enroll in a study, this could make a life-saving difference.

"This milestone is a giant step toward a nationwide model for greater efficiency in IRB review, which is critical to getting more treatments to more patients more quickly," said Carlton Dampier, MD, Director, ACTSI Ethics & Regulatory and Professor of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine. "It was made possible by the teamwork of hundreds of experts across the country who worked together to achieve what was thought to be impossible even a few years ago."

Next steps for the SMART IRB platform include the development of education, training, and harmonization of best practices for a single IRB review. In addition, the SMART IRB authorization agreement will provide the foundation for NCATS' Trial Innovation Network central IRBs. The Trial Innovation Network is a collaborative CTSA program initiative designed to address critical roadblocks in clinical research, and to optimize and streamline the clinical trial and studies process.

Learn how to use the SMART IRB agreement by watching this short video.

ACTSI is a city-wide partnership between Emory, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Georgia Institute of Technology and is one of over 60 in a national consortium striving to improve the way biomedical research is conducted across the country. The consortium, funded by NCATS and the NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards, shares a common vision to translate laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, engage communities in clinical research efforts, and train the next generation of clinical investigators.

Read more about ACTSI’s partner reciprocity