HRP Consulting Group has evaluated numerous institutions’ research ethics programs and has determined that the majority of the best institutions have one thing in common: those institutions have all, if not most, of their research ethics program staff CIP or CPIA certified. The CIP (Certified IRB Professional) and CPIA (Certified Professional IACUC Administrator) certifications are obtained by taking a comprehensive exam through PRIM&R and ensure that the research ethics staff are well versed in all aspects of either human or animal research standard practices and current regulations. Additionally, both the CIP and CPIA require continuing education for re-certification, which guarantees that all certified research ethics staff remains current with their regulatory knowledge. With the constant changes in regulations and how they should be interpreted and implemented, the value of CIP and CPIA certifications increases exponentially.

One of the keys to a successful research ethics program is investing in both the long and short term staff. One way to look at this is similar to personal investments. Most people view a home purchase as a long term investment, which they will continue to invest in and maintain over time, thus increasing the value of the home; this is the equivalent to the research ethics staff. Short term investments like cars get you from one point to another and typically satisfy a particular purpose; this would be equivalent to a committee chair that may serve in their role for a few years to meet specific program goals. Institutions that invest in their long and short term staff are typically more successful and generate a more positive impression from the researchers’ community and administration.

For those institutions that are looking to increase the productivity and efficiency of their research ethics program, the CIP/CPIA certifications are excellent options. Additional information about the exams can be found on the PRIM&R website.