Sponsored research updates: Awards received, human subjects protections

November 8, 2010

Awards received

Yung-Wen Liu, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, and Armen Zakarian, professor and chair of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, received $30,534 from MCA Incorporated to develop a mathematical model to monitor productivity trends and improve productivity forecasting in the construction industry.

Yi Lu Murphey, professor and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received $30,000 from TRW to continue her work on advanced camera sensing applications for the automotive industry.

Human subjects protections

The University of Michigan-Dearborn Human Subjects Committee, or Institutional Review Board (IRB-Dearborn) is one of nine IRB Committees at the University of Michigan. The primary goal of IRB-Dearborn is to protect the rights and welfare of human research subjects recruited to participate in research activities conducted under the auspices of the UM-Dearborn. Applications submitted to IRB-Dearborn generally involve social, behavioral and educational research and are not medically invasive and do not include patients or resources of the University of Michigan Health System. Certain populations of human subjects may be particularly vulnerable in a research setting: children, prisoners, pregnant women, fetuses, mentally disabled persons, and economically or educationally disadvantaged persons. In undertaking a review of these subject populations, IRB-Dearborn will apply additional protective safeguards as required by federal and state law, institutional guidelines and any other applicable agency/entity regulations.

Whether or not a research project falls under the jurisdiction of IRB-Dearborn--and thus requires IRB Approval--depends on three things: Is it research? Are there human subjects? Is U-M "engaged" in the research.

Is it research?
Research (that is, research under IRB jurisdiction) means a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. If faculty intend to publish the results of the study "outside the walls" of the University, or the study is not a single "case study," journalism, or oral histories, then the study is regulated research and under IRB jurisdiction. You will need IRB approval for your research if it involves human subjects.

Human Subjects?
Human subject refers to a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research (whether funded or not) obtains:
1. data through intervention or interaction with the individual or
2. identifiable personal or private information

  • A survey of individuals requesting personal information (information that is sensitive or could be damaging if made public, such as tendencies toward depression or past illegal behavior) or private information (social security number, home address, medical information).
  • Measuring blood pressure and heart rate with a simple, commonly-used cuff and finger clamp.
  • Having K-12 students take a pre- and post-test to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular teaching method that the investigator wishes to report on in a scholarly journal.

U-M Engaged?
The University is engaged when:
1. the investigator is a UM-Dearborn faculty or staff member or a student conducting research as a requirement for a degree requirement or under the supervision of a UM-Dearborn faculty member;
2. the research is conducted on the campus using UM-Dearborn facilities or utilizes closely held resources such as equipment, personnel or student data.

A special situation arises when the research is conducted in a classroom. See the University of Michigan Policy on Classroom Research for more information.

If you are unsure about whether or not a research or classroom project requires IRB approval or if you have further questions, please call the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs 313- 593-5468 or e-mail irb-dearborn@umd.umich.edu.