Science & Technology

Utah State University Human Research Protection Program Awarded Full Accreditation

A study participant walks up stairs in the Neuromechanics Lab of the College of Educational and Human Services. USU recently was again recognized with full accreditation by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs.

Utah State University’s efforts in the protection of human research participants have been recognized once again by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP) with full accreditation.

USU’s Human Research Protection Program received special recognition for:

  • Excellence in communication — particularly during a high-turnover period in the initial stages of the pandemic;
  • Clearly constructed materials for IRB members to use in their review processes that allowed IRB members to engage with ethical and regulatory considerations at a high level; and
  • Strong implementation of the Belmont Principle of Justice in the research review process.

USU’s Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) is made up of three primary areas: the organizational structure for human subjects research, led by an institutional official (the vice president for research); the Institutional Review Board, led by the IRB Chair; and USU’s researchers.

“Utah State University is thrilled to receive full accreditation from AAHRPP once more,” said Lisa Berreau, vice president for research. “Full accreditation communicates the high quality of the human research protection program we’ve long had here at USU and demonstrates our strong commitment to the protection of research participants.”

AAHRPP is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the recognition of high-quality human research protection programs throughout the world. AAHRPP Accreditation is a signal to the public that USU is home to strong, ethically sound research that prioritizes the rights and welfare of living people. Through partnerships with research organizations like USU, researchers, sponsors and the public, AAHRPP works to encourage effective, efficient and innovative systems of protection for human research participants.

Utah State University’s HRPP has been accredited since 2009 and was the second organization in the state to receive full accreditation from AAHRPP. The application process spanned more than a year and involved a lengthy written application, requests from AAHRPP for modifications to policies and procedures, and culminated in a two-day site visit from experienced human research protections administrators from Texas and Massachusetts.

AAHRPP Site Visitors interviewed more than 40 people from various areas of the HRPP to ensure that the policies and procedures USU has in place to support its HRPP were being implemented in practice. The application process and coordination of the virtual site visit was led by USU Director of Human Research Protections Nicole Vouvalis.

Melanie Domenech Rodríguez, the chair of USU’s IRB, was grateful for AAHRPP’s recognition in all areas but particularly regarding justice.

“Equitable research participation is core to the mission of an Institutional Review Board,” Domenech Rodríguez said “Inequitable research practices is one of the key reasons IRBs exist, so to be recognized by AAHRPP for this area in our review processes demonstrates that our board members and staff are honoring the IRB’s mission and the land-grant mission of Utah State.”


Nicole Vouvalis
Director of Human Research Protections
Office of Research


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