UT Health Science Center gains human research protection accreditation

SAN ANTONIO (June 18, 2009) — The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio today announced it has earned full accreditation from the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP). Only 42 percent of academic health centers nationwide have received this three-year accreditation, which ensures higher-than-federal standards of protection for research participants.

“This is important for San Antonio because it reassures our community that if the best treatment option is to participate in a clinical research study, we do everything possible to ensure the safety of participants and protect their rights,” said Jenice N. Longfield, M.D., M.P.H., assistant vice president for research operations at the UT Health Science Center and chair of its Human Research Protection Program committee.

Accreditation also assures the same protections to people who might be willing to serve as normal volunteers in research to help advance medical science, Dr. Longfield said.

Protections include:

• Proper, scientific design of clinical research studies;

• Recruiting and consenting procedures that ensure subjects are informed of potential risks and benefits and have their privacy and confidentiality protected;

• Appropriate monitoring of the safety of subjects during research trials.

“This accreditation reflects our commitment to the public that, as we seek the discovery of new knowledge to ease human suffering from diseases, we take every precaution to safeguard the well-being of those who assist us in this pursuit,” said William L. Henrich, M.D., M.A.C.P., sole finalist for president of the UT Health Science Center.

In 2008, the Health Science Center conducted 1,119 active clinical research studies. Each one was approved by the Health Science Center’s Institutional Review Board, a multidisciplinary committee that ensures federal guidelines are met or exceeded. The board members, research investigators and staff contribute on a daily basis to the Human Research Protection Program.

This is the first AAHRPP accreditation for the Health Science Center. AAHRPP was formed in 2001 to address research participant protection issues. See http://www.aahrpp.org.

Brian Herman, Ph.D., vice president for research, is the Health Science Center’s institutional official responsible for establishing, maintaining and advancing the Human Research Protection Program. The mission of the program is to protect the rights and welfare of participants who take part in Health Science Center research.

The South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston also earned full accreditation. AAHRPP has accredited 188 organizations since its formation. One of those is The University of Texas at Austin.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $668 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $16.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $36 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 25,600 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and other health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit www.uthscsa.edu.

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