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Glossary of Terms






Pharmacological substances that have the potential for creating abusive dependency. Abuse-liable substances can include both illicit drugs (e.g., heroin) and licit drugs (e.g., methamphetamines). 


American College of Sports Medicine. A sport-related organization of persons from a wide variety of occupations: sport science doctors, physiologists, researchers, coaches, trainers, and other practitioners and instructors. The ACSM's Mission Statement is to "promote and integrate scientific research, education, and practical applications of sports medicine and exercise science to maintain and enhance physical performance, fitness, health, and quality of life." 


Means the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and any other officer or employee of the Environmental Protection Agency to whom authority has been delegated by the Administrator.

Adverse Effect

Any undesirable and unintended, although not necessarily unexpected, result of therapy or other intervention (e.g., headache following spinal tap or intestinal bleeding associated with aspirin therapy).

Adverse Event

Any physical, psychological or social harm to subjects during the course of research.

Allegation of Non-Compliance

Is defined as an unproved assertion of non-compliance.


The quality or state of being anonymous, unknown, or not identifiable.


A child's affirmative agreement to participate in research. Mere failure to object, absent affirmative agreement, should not be construed as assent.


A formal written, binding commitment that is submitted to a federal agency in which an institution promises to comply with applicable regulations governing research with human subjects and stipulates the procedures through which compliance will be achieved. 

Authorized Institutional Official

An officer of an institution with the authority to speak for and legally commit the institution to adherence to the requirements of the federal regulations regarding the involvement of human subjects in biomedical and behavioral research. 


Personal capacity to consider alternatives, make choices, and act without undue influence or interference of others. 


The scope and diversity of research areas in the behavioral and social sciences is quite broad. Some research is readily applicable to human affairs; other studies may broaden understanding without any apparent or immediate application. Some research is designed to test hypotheses derived from theory; other research is primarily descriptive. Still other research may be directed at evaluating an intervention or social program. Behavioral research involving human subjects generates data by means of questionnaires, observation, studies of existing records, and experimental designs involving exposure to some type of stimulus or intervention. 


An ethical principle discussed in the Belmont Report that entails an obligation to protect persons from harm. The principle of beneficence can be expressed in two general rules: (1) do not harm; and (2) protect from harm by maximizing possible benefits and minimizing possible risks of harm. 


A valued or desired outcome; an advantage


A biological or related product derived from living sources (e.g., humans, animals, microorganisms) and regulated by the FDA, including blood, vaccines, allergenic, tissues and cellular and gene therapies. Studies of unlicensed biologics are generally regulated according to the IND regulations.

FDA regulations related to the general use and licensing of biologics are found in 21 CFR 600 and 601.


(1) Of or related to life or to living organisms; (2) A drug derived from a biological source. 


Biomedical research employs many methods and research designs. Studies designed to evaluate the safety, effectiveness, or usefulness of an intervention include research on therapies (e.g., drugs, diet, exercise, surgical interventions, or medical devices), diagnostic procedures (e.g., CAT scans or prenatal diagnosis through amniocentesis, chorionic villi testing, and fetoscopy), and preventive measures (e.g., vaccines, diet, or fluoridated toothpaste). Research on normal human functioning and development can include studies of the human body while exercising, fasting, feeding, sleeping, or learning, or responding to such things as stress or sensory stimulation. Subjects of some biomedical studies engage in ordinary tasks while measurement of physiological and bodily functions are made. Some biomedical studies, particularly those conducted to evaluate new therapies or treatments, use such rigorous experimental methods as random assignment to treatment and control groups. 



The body of a deceased person.

Case-Control Study

A study comparing persons with a given condition or disease (the cases) and persons without the condition or disease (the controls) with respect to antecedent factors (See also: retrospective studies.). 

Cat Scan

Abbreviation for Computerized Axial Tomography, an X-ray technique for producing images of internal bodily structures through the assistance of a computer.


The official notification by the institution to the supporting Department or Agency, in accordance with the requirements of this policy, that a research project or activity involving human subjects has been reviewed and approved by an IRB in accordance with an approved assurance.


In Illinois a child is defined as an individual who has not attained 18 years of age.

NOTE: For research conducted in jurisdictions other than Illinois, the research must comply with the laws regarding the legal age of consent in all relevant jurisdictions. The General Counsel of the University’s Office will provide assistance with regard to the laws in other jurisdictions.


Persons who have not attained the legal age for consent to treatment or procedures involved in the research, as determined under the applicable law of the jurisdiction in which the research will be conducted.

[45 CFR 46.402(a)] 


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; an agency within the Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services. 


Code of Federal Regulations. A cumulation of federal executive agency regulations organized into 50 Titles and published in the Federal Register as they are promulgated. 

Class I, II, III Devices

Classification by the Food and Drug Administration of medical devices according to potential risks or hazards. 

Clinical Investigation

Any experiment in which a test article is administered or dispensed to, or used involving, one or more human subjects. In this context, experiment refers to any use of a drug except for the use of a marketed drug in the course of medical practice.

(21 CFR 312.3(b))

Clinical Trial

A controlled study involving human subjects, designed to evaluate prospectively the safety and effectiveness of new drugs or devices or of behavioral interventions. 

Cognitively Impaired

Having either a psychiatric disorder (e.g., psychosis, neurosis, personality or behavior disorders, or dementia) or a developmental disorder (e.g., mental retardation) that affects cognitive or emotional functions to the extent that capacity for judgment and reasoning is significantly diminished. Others, including persons under the influence of or dependent on drugs or alcohol, those suffering from degenerative diseases affecting the brain, terminally ill patients, and persons with severely disabling physical handicaps, may also be compromised in their ability to make decisions in their best interests. 


A group of subjects initially identified as having one or more characteristics in common who are followed over time. In social science research, this term may refer to any group of persons who are born at about the same time and share common historical or cultural experiences. 

Collaborating Entities

Entities engaged in human subjects research by virtue of subject accrual, transfer of identifiable information, and/or in exchange of something of value, such as material support (e.g., money, drugs, or identifiable specimens, coauthorship, intellectual property, or credits). 


Payment or medical care provided to subjects injured in research; does not refer to payment (remuneration) for participation in research. (Compare: remuneration.) 


Technically, a legal term, used to denote capacity to act on one's own behalf; the ability to understand information presented, to appreciate the consequences of acting (or not acting) on that information, and to make a choice. (See also: incompetence, incapacity.) 


Pertains to the treatment of information that an individual has disclosed in a relationship of trust and with the expectation that it will not be divulged to others without permission in ways that are inconsistent with the understanding of the original disclosure. 

Conflict of Interest

A conflict of interest occurs when an IRB member is in a position to advance the IRB member's own interest or that of the IRB member's family or others to the potential detriment of any human subject involved in the research under review. 


See: informed consent. 

Continuing Non-Compliance

Is defined as a pattern of non-compliance that, in the judgment of the IRB Chair or convened IRB, suggests a likelihood that instances of non-compliance will continue without intervention.  Continuing non-compliance also includes failure to respond to a request to resolve an episode of non-compliance.

Continuing Review

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Regulations, 45 CFR 46, require at Section 46.109(e) that "an IRB shall conduct continuing review …at intervals appropriate to the degree of risk, but not less than once per year…" Continuing review must be substantive and meaningful. Review by the convened IRB, with recorded vote, is required unless the research is otherwise appropriate for expedited review under Section 46.110. 


An agreement; as used here, an agreement that a specific research activity will be performed at the request, and under the direction, of the agency providing the funds. Research performed under contract is more closely controlled by the agency than research performed under a grant. (Compare: grant.) 

Control (subjects) or controls

Subject(s) used for comparison who are not given a treatment under study or who do not have a given condition, background, or risk factor that is the object of study. Control conditions may be concurrent (occurring more or less simultaneously with the condition under study) or historical (preceding the condition under study). When the present condition of subjects is compared with their own condition on a prior regimen or treatment, the study is considered historically controlled. 


Disadvantageous, perhaps dangerous; a treatment that should not be used in certain individuals or conditions due to risks (e.g., a drug may be contraindicated for pregnant women and persons with high blood pressure). 

Cooperative Protocol Research Program (CPRP)

Programs involving multi-protocol, multi-site research, in which data from standardized protocols are pooled across institutions. These protocols, conducted or sponsored by DHHS, are approved and monitored by DHHS Protocol Review Committees that are recognized by OHRP as satisfactorily addressing the quality of human subject protections. 

Cooperative Research Projects

Research projects covered by 45 CFR 46 that involve more than one institution. In the conduct of cooperative research projects, each institution is responsible for safeguarding the rights and welfare of human subjects and for complying with federal policy [45 CFR 46.114]. 

Correlation Coefficient

A statistical index of the degree of relationship between two variables. Values of correlation coefficients range from -1.00 through zero to +1.00. A correlation coefficient of 0.00 indicates no relationship between the variables. Correlations approaching -1.00 or +1.00 indicate strong relationships between the variables. However, causal inferences about the relationship between two variables can never be made on the basis of correlation coefficients, no matter how strong a relationship is indicated. 

Cross-Over Design

A type of clinical trial in which each subject experiences, at different times, both the experimental and control therapy. For example, half of the subjects might be randomly assigned first to the control group and then to the experimental intervention, while the other half would have the sequence reversed. 


Data and Safety Monitoring Board

A committee of scientists, physicians, statisticians, and others that collects and analyzes data during the course of a clinical trial to monitor for adverse effects and other trends (such as an indication that one treatment is significantly better than another, particularly when one arm of the trial involves a placebo control) that would warrant modification or termination of the trial or notification of subjects about new information that might affect their willingness to continue in the trial.

Dead Fetus

An expelled or delivered fetus that exhibits no heartbeat, spontaneous respiratory activity, spontaneous movement of voluntary muscles, or pulsation of the umbilical cord (if still attached) [45 CFR 46.203(f)]. Generally, some organs, tissues, and cells (referred to collectively as fetal tissue) remain alive for varying periods of time after the total organism is dead.


Giving subjects previously undisclosed information about the research project following completion of their participation in research. (Note that this usage, which occurs within the behavioral sciences, departs from standard English, in which debriefing is obtaining rather than imparting information.)

Declaration of Helsinki

A code of ethics for clinical research approved by the World Medical Association in 1964 and widely adopted by medical associations in various countries. It was revised in 1975 and 1989.

Departamental Review Bodies

Committees or persons representing a UIUC department involved in human subjects research, and which are delegated the authority to review applications for such research if it is minimal risk and is not externally funded.

Dependent Variables

The outcomes that are measured in an experiment. Dependent variables are expected to change as a result of an experimental manipulation of the independent variable(s).

Descriptive Study

Any study that is not truly experimental (e.g., quasi-experimental studies, correlational studies, record reviews, case histories, and observational studies).


A federal agency: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; formerly the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (DHEW).

Diagnostic (Procedure)

Tests used to identify a disorder or disease in a living person.

Double-Masked Design

A study design in which neither the investigators nor the subjects know the treatment group assignments of individual subjects. Sometimes referred to as "double-blind."


Any chemical compound that may be used on or administered to humans as an aid in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, mitigation, or prevention of disease or other abnormal conditions.

Emancipated Minor

A legal status conferred upon persons who have not yet attained the age of legal competency as defined by state law (for such purposes as consenting to medical care), but who are entitled to treatment as if they had by virtue of assuming adult responsibilities such as being self-supporting and not living at home, marriage, or procreation. (See also: mature minor.)


Early stages of a developing organism, broadly used to refer to stages immediately following fertilization of an egg through implantation and very early pregnancy (i.e., from conception to the eighth week of pregnancy). (See also: fetus.)

Emergency Use

The use of a test article on a human subject in a life-threatening situation in which no standard acceptable treatment is available, and in which there is not sufficient time to obtain IRB approval.


A scientific discipline that studies the factors determining the causes, frequency, and distribution of diseases in a community or given population.


Fair or just; used in the context of selection of subjects to indicate that the benefits and burdens of research are fairly distributed.

Ethics Advisory Board

An interdisciplinary group that advises the Secretary, HHS, on general policy matters and on research proposals (or classes of proposals) that pose ethical problems.

Ethnographic Research

Ethnography is the study of people and their culture. Ethnographic research, also called fieldwork, involves observation of and interaction with the persons or group being studied in the group's own environment, often for long periods of time. (See also: fieldwork.)


Clearing or tending to clear from alleged fault or guilt. Statements of informed consent may not include exculpatory language that would justify, excuse, or clear an investigator from alleged fault or guilt (in the case of an adverse event), or through which the subject waives their legal rights [45 CFR 46.116].


human subjects research that is specifically excluded from the application of 45 CFR 46 is termed exempt and is described at 45 CFR 46.101.

Expanded Availability

Policy and procedure that permits individuals who have serious or life-threatening diseases for which there are no alternative therapies to have access to investigational drugs and devices that may be beneficial to them. Examples of expanded availability mechanisms include treatment INDs, parallel track, and open study protocols.

Expedited Review

Review of proposed research by the IRB chair or a designated voting member or group of voting members rather than by the entire IRB. Federal rules permit expedited review for certain kinds of research involving no more than minimal risk and for minor changes in approved research.


Any experiment that involves a test article and one or more human subjects and that either is subject to requirements for prior submission to the Food and Drug Administration under Section 505(i) or 520(g) of the act, or is not subject to requirements for prior submission to the Food and Drug Administration under these Sections of the act, but the results of which are intended to be submitted later to, or held for inspection by, the Food and Drug Administration as part of an application for a research or marketing permit. The term does not include experiments that are subject to the provisions of part 58 of this chapter, regarding non-clinical laboratory studies. An experiment, as defined in 21 CFR 312, includes any use of a drug other than the use of a marketed (approved) drug in the course of medical practice.

Human Subject Research as defined by FDA regulations


Term often used to denote a therapy (drug, device, procedure) that is unproved or not yet scientifically validated with respect to safety and efficacy. A procedure may be considered "experimental" without necessarily being part of a formal study (research) to evaluate its usefulness. (See also: research.)

Experimental Study

A true experimental study is one in which subjects are randomly assigned to groups that experience carefully controlled interventions manipulated by the experimenter according to a strict logic allowing causal inference about the effects of the interventions under investigation. (See also: quasi-experimental study.)

Expiration Date

The date after which a protocol is no longer approved for use with human subjects.

Externally Funded

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, any research funded by an agency external to the University of Illinois and its subunits.

Extra Material

Material collected during a clinical or diagnostic procedure but, solely for investigative purposes, in quantities above and beyond what was needed for the procedure.



False Negative

When a test wrongly shows an effect or condition to be absent (e.g., that a woman is not pregnant when, in fact, she is).

False Positive

When a test wrongly shows an effect or condition to be present (e.g., that a woman is pregnant when, in fact, she is not)


Food and Drug Administration; an agency of the federal government established by Congress in 1912 and presently part of the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Federal Policy (the)

The federal policy that provides regulations for the involvement of human subjects inresearch. The Policy applies to all research involving human subjects conducted, supported, or otherwise subject to regulation by any federal department or agency that takes appropriate administrative action to make the Policy applicable to such research. (Also known as the "Common Rule.")

Fetal Material

The placenta, amniotic fluid, fetal membranes, and umbilical cord.


The product of conception from implantation until delivery.If the delivered or expelled fetus is viable, it is designated an infant [45 CFR 46.203(c)]. The term "fetus" generally refers to later phases of development; the term "embryo" is usually used for earlier phases of development. (See also: embryo.)


Behavioral, social, or anthropological research involving the study of persons or groups in their own environment and without manipulation for research purposes (distinguished from laboratory or controlled settings). (See also: ethnographic research.)

Finding of Non-Compliance

Is defined as an allegation of non-compliance that is proven true or a report of non-compliance that is clearly true. (For example, a finding on an audit of an unsigned consent document, or an admission of an investigator that the protocol was willfully not followed would represent reports of non-compliance that would require no further action to determine their truth and would therefore represent findings of non-compliance.)

510 (k) Device

A medical device that is considered substantially equivalent to a device that was or is being legally marketed. A sponsor planning to market such a device must submit notification to the FDA 90 days in advance of placing the device on the market. If the FDA concurs with the sponsor, the device may then be marketed. 510(k) is the section of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that describes premarket notification; hence the designation "510(k) device."

Food and Dietary Supplements

Generally are not regulated as drugs. However, those that are intended or promoted to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease are considered drugs.

45 CFR 46

See: Title 45 Code of Federal Regulations Part 46.

Full Board Review

Review of proposed research at a convened meeting at which a majority of the membership of the IRB is present, including at least one member whose primary concerns are in nonscientific areas. For the research to be approved, it must receive the approval of a majority of those members present at the meeting.

Gene Therapy

The treatment of genetic disease accomplished by altering the genetic structure of either somatic (nonreproductive) or germline (reproductive) cells.

General Controls

Certain FDA statutory provisions designed to control the safety of marketed drugs anddevices. The general controls include provisions on adulteration, misbranding, banned devices, good manufacturing practices, notification and record keeping, and other sections of the Medical Device Amendments to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act [21 U.S. Code §360(c) (Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act §513)].

Generalizable Knowledge

Knowledge "expressed in theories, principles, and statements of relationships" that can be widely applied to our experiences [the Belmont Report]. The term "generalizable knowledge" is used to distinguish the results of research from the results of nonresearch activities such as "practice" activities. "For the most part, the term 'practice' refers to interventions that are designed solely to enhance the well-being of an individual patient or client. By contrast, the term "research" designates an activity designed to test an hypothesis, permit conclusions to be drawn, and thereby to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge [the Belmont Report]." 

Genetic Screening

Tests to identify persons who have an inherited predisposition to a certain phenotype or who are at risk of producing offspring with inherited diseases or disorders.


The genetic constitution of an individual.


Financial support provided for research study designed and proposed by the principal investigator(s). The granting agency exercises no direct control over the conduct of approved research supported by a grant. (Compare: contract.)


In Illinois a “Guardian” of a minor means the duty and authority to act in the best interests of the minor, subject to residual parental rights and responsibilities, to make important decisions in matters having a permanent effect on the life and development of the minor, and to be concerned with his or her general welfare.

NOTE: For research conducted in jurisdictions other than Illinois, the research must comply with the laws regarding guardianship in all relevant jurisdictions. The General Counsel of the University’s Office will provide assistance with regard to the laws in other jurisdictions.

Health and Human Services


Helsinki Declaration

See: Declaration of Helsinki.



Hippocratic Oath

An oath of ethical professional behavior sworn by some new physicians and attributed to Hippocrates, a Greek physician of about the Fifth Century BC. A central tenet of the oath is "do no harm." Excerpts from the oath: "I swear…that...I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel…Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption….Whatever, in connection with my professional practice, or not in connection with it, I see or hear in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of…I will not divulge, as…all such should be kept secret."

Historical Controls

Control subjects (followed at some time in the past or for whom data are available through records) who are used for comparison with subjects being treated concurrently. The study is considered historically controlled when the present condition of subjects is compared with their own condition on a prior regimen or treatment.


See: human immunodeficiency virus.

Human Inmunodeficiency Virus

The virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Human in Vitro Fertilization

Any fertilization involving human sperm and ova that occurs outside the human body.

Human Subject

A living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains:

1. Data through intervention or interaction with the    individual, or

2. Identifiable private information.

Human Subject Research as defined by DHHS regulations

Human Subject

An individual who is or becomes a subject in research, either as a recipient of the test article or as a control. A subject may be either a healthy human or a patient. In the case of a medical device, a human subject/participant also means a human on whose specimen an investigational device is used.

Human Subject Research as defined by FDA regulations

Human Subject

The term human subject means a living individual about whom an investigator conducting research obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or obtains individually identifiable, private information.

Human Subjects Research

For the purposes of this policy “human subject research” is defined as an activity that meets the definition of “research” and involves “human subjects” as defined either by DHHS regulations or by FDA regulations (or other applicable funding agencies).



See: Investigational Device Exemptions.


Refers to a person's mental status and means inability to understand information presented, to appreciate the consequences of acting (or not acting) on that information, and to make a choice. Often used as a synonym for incompetence. (See also: incompetence.) 


Technically, a legal term meaning inability to manage one's own affairs. Often used as a synonym for incapacity. (See also: incapacity.)


See: Investigational New Drug

Independent Variables

The conditions of an experiment that are systematically manipulated by the investigator.

Informed Consent

A person's voluntary agreement, based upon adequate knowledge and understanding of relevant information, to participate in research or to undergo a diagnostic, therapeutic, or preventive procedure. In giving informed consent, subjects may not waive or appear to waive any of their legal rights, or release or appear to release the investigator, the sponsor, the institution or agents thereof from liability for negligence. 

[Federal Policy §116; 21 CFR 50.20 and 50.25].

In Loco Parentis

In the place of a parent; instead of a parent; charged with a parent's rights, duties, and responsibilities.

Institution (1)

Any public or private entity or agency (including federal, state, and local agencies).

Institution (2)

A residential facility that provides food, shelter, and professional services (including treatment, skilled nursing, intermediate or long-term care, and custodial or residential care). Examples include general, mental, or chronic disease hospitals; inpatient community mental health centers; halfway houses and nursing homes; alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers; homes for the aged or dependent, residential schools for the mentally or physically handicapped; and homes for dependent and neglected children.

Institutional Review Board

A specially constituted review body established or designated by an entity to protect the welfare of human subjects recruited to participate in biomedical or behavioral research.


Confined, either voluntarily or involuntarily (e.g., in a hospital, prison, or nursing home).

Institutionalized Cognitively Impaired

Persons who are confined, either voluntarily or involuntarily, in a facility for the care of the mentally or otherwise disabled (e.g., a psychiatric hospital, home, or school for the retarded).


Includes communication or interpersonal contact between investigator and subject.

Human Subject Research as defined by DHHS regulations


Intervention includes both physical procedures (e.g., venipuncture) by which data are gathered and manipulations of the subject (e.g., by deception) or the subject's environment (e.g., by introducing extreme heat) that are performed for research purposes.

Human Subject Research as defined by DHHS regulations

Investigational Device

A medical device that is the subject of a clinical study designed to evaluate the effectiveness or safety of the device, or a clinical evaluation of certain modifications or new intended uses of a legally marketed device.

Clinical investigations that involve FDA regulated devices are subject to the requirements of 21 CFR 812.

Investigational Device Exemption Application (IDE)

An IDE exempts an unapproved or uncleared device (or an approved or cleared device for an unapproved or uncleared indication) in a research study involving humans (i.e., an IDE is an investigational exemption) from certain statutes and regulations. With this exemption, the unapproved or uncleared device can be shipped and used in human research.

Investigational New Drug

An unapproved drug or biologic (or approved drug or biologic for an unapproved indication) used in an FDA-regulated clinical investigation. The term also includes biological products used in vitro for diagnostic purposes.

Clinical investigations that involve FDA regulated drugs are subject to the requirements of 21 CFR 312.

Investigational New Drug Application (IND)

An IND exempts an investigational new drug from pre-marketing approval requirements that would otherwise by applicable and allows the drug to be lawfully shipped for the purpose of conducting clinical investigations of that drug.

(21 CFR 312.1(a))


In clinical trials, an individual who actually conducts an investigation [21 CFR 312.3]. Any interventions (e.g., drugs) involved in the study are administered to subjects under the immediate direction of the investigator. (See also: principal investigator.)

In Vitro

Literally, "in glass" or "test tube;" used to refer to processes that are carried out outside the living body, usually in the laboratory, as distinguished from in vivo.

In Vivo

Literally, "in the living body;" processes, such as the absorption of a drug by the human body, carried out in the living body rather than in a laboratory (in vitro).


An Institutional Review Board established in accord with and for the purposes expressed in this policy.See also: Institutional Review Board

IRB Approval

The determination of the IRB that the research has been reviewed and may be conducted at an institution within the constraints set forth by the IRB and by other institutional and federal requirements.


An ethical principle discussed in the Belmont Report requiring fairness in distribution of burdens and benefits; often expressed in terms of treating persons of similar circumstances or characteristics similarly.


The period of time during which a woman is providing her breast milk to an infant or child.

Legally Authorized Representative

A person authorized either by statute or by court appointment to make decisions on behalf of another person. In human subjects research, an individual or judicial or other body authorized under applicable law to consent on behalf of a prospective subject to the subject's participation in the procedure(s) involved in the research.

Life Threatening 

Means diseases or conditions where the likelihood of death is high unless the course of the disease is interrupted and diseases or conditions with potentially fatal outcomes, where the end point of clinical trial analysis is survival. The criteria for life threatening do not require the condition to be immediately life threatening or to immediately result in death. Rather, the subjects must be in a life-threatening situation requiring intervention before review at a convened meeting of the IRB is feasible.

LOD Score

An expression of the probability that a gene and a marker are linked.

Longitudinal Study

A study designed to follow subjects forward through time.


Major Modification

A significant change to a protocol where subjects would be engaging in activities not previously approved during the review process or where there is an increased level of risk to the physical, emotional, or psychological well-being of participants, especially in relation to the loss of confidentiality.

Masked Study Designs

Study designs comparing two or more interventions in which either the investigators, the subjects, or some combination thereof do not know the treatment group assignments of individual subjects. Sometimes called "blind" study designs. (See also: double-masked design; single-masked design.)

Mature Minor

Someone who has not reached adulthood (as defined by state law) but who may be treated as an adult for certain purposes (e.g., consenting to medical care). Note that a mature minor is not necessarily an emancipated minor. (See also: emancipated minor.)

Medical Device

A diagnostic or therapeutic article that does not achieve any of its principal intended purpose through chemical action within or on the body. Such devices include diagnostic test kits, crutches, electrodes, pacemakers, arterial grafts, intraocular lenses, and orthopedic pins or other orthopedic equipment.

Medical Device Amendments (MDA)

Amendments to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act passed in 1976 to regulate the distribution of medical devices and diagnostic products. 

Medical Disability (ies)

See: cognitively impaired.


See: metabolic equivalent

Metabolic Equivalent

The oxygen cost of energy expenditure measured at supine rest (1 MET = 3.5 ml O2 per kg of body weight per minute); multiples of MET are used to estimate the oxygen cost of activity, e.g., 3 to 5 METs for light work; more than 9 METs for heavy work [Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 26th ed.]


The manner in which a substance is acted upon (taken up, converted to other substances, and excreted) by various organs of the body.

Minimal Risk

A risk is minimal where the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the proposed research are not greater, in and of themselves, than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests. For example, the risk of drawing a small amount of blood from a healthy individual for research purposes is no greater than the risk of doing so as part of routine physical examination. The definition of minimal risk for research involving prisoners differs somewhat from that given for noninstitutionalized adults.

[See 45 CFR 46.303(d)]

Minor Modification

Protocol modifications that might include minor wording changes in the consent form, changes in compensation, time of participation, or subject recruitment, or the use of a new investigation site that is not materially different from a previously approved site. There may also be changes to other parameters whereby the investigator provides the subjects with more accurate information as a result of additional experience with the protocol.


The collection and analysis of data as the project progresses to assure the appropriateness of the research, its design and subject protections.

Multiple Project Assurance

A formal document filed with OHRP that outlines specifically how an IRB will comply with DHHS regulations for the protection of human subjects (45 CFR 46), in accordance with the federal policy.

National Commission

National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. An interdisciplinary advisory body, established by Congressional legislation in 1974, which was in existence until 1978, and which issued a series of reports and recommendations on ethical issues in research and medicine, many of which are now embodied in federal regulations.

National Institutes of Health

See: NIH.


See: new drug application.


A newborn.

New Drug Application

Request for FDA approval to market a new drug.


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; an institute in NIH.


National Institute on Drug Abuse; an institute in NIH. 


National Institutes of Health: a federal agency within the Public Health Service, DHHS, comprising 21 institutes and centers. It is responsible for carrying out and supporting biomedical and behavioral research.


National Institute of Mental Health; an institute in NIH.

Nonaffiliated Member

Member of an Institutional Review Board who has no ties to the parent institution, its staff, or faculty. This individual is usually from the local community (e.g., minister, business person, attorney, teacher, homemaker).


Information of a private nature that is not available to the general public, not located in a public place, or not open and available to common use or observation.


Is defined as failure to comply with any of the regulations and policies described in this document and failure to follow the determinations of the IRB. Non-compliance may be minor or sporadic or it may be serious or continuing.  

Nonsignificant Risk Device

A device not meeting the definition of SR device. Examples of significant and nonsignificant risk devices are available here.

Nontherapeutic Research

Research that has no likelihood or intent of producing a diagnostic, preventive, ortherapeutic benefit to the current subjects, although it may benefit subjects with a similar condition in the future.

Nonviable Fetus

An expelled or delivered fetus which, although it is living, cannot possibly survive to the point of sustaining life independently, even with the support of available medical therapy [45 CFR 46.203 (d) and (e)]. Although it may be presumed that an expelled or delivered fetus is nonviable at a gestational age less than 20 weeks and weight less than 500 grams [Federal Register 40 (August 8, 1975): 33552], a specific determination as to viability must be made by a physician in each instance. (See also: viable infant.)

Nonviable Neonate

A neonate after delivery that, although living, is not viable.

Normal Volunteers

Volunteer subjects used to study normal physiology and behavior or who do not have the condition under study in a particular protocol, used as comparisons with subjects who do have the condition. "Normal" may not mean normal in all respects. For example, patients with broken legs (if not on medication that will affect the results) may serve as normal volunteers in studies of metabolism, cognitive development, and the like. Similarly, patients with heart disease but without diabetes may be the "normals" in a study of diabetes complicated by heart disease.

Null Hypotheses

The proposition, to be tested statistically, that the experimental intervention has "no effect," meaning that the treatment and control groups will not differ as a result of the intervention. Investigators usually hope that the data will demonstrate some effect from the intervention, thereby allowing the investigator to reject the null hypothesis.

Nuremberg Code

A code of research ethics developed during the trials of Nazi war criminals following World War II and widely adopted as a standard during the 1950s and 1960s for protecting human subjects.



Observational Research

Means any research with human subjects that does not meet the definition of research involving intentional exposure of a human subject in §26.202(a).


Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP)

New name for the OPRR (Office for Protection from Research Risks) after it was moved out of the NIH and directly under the purview of the DHHS in June 2000; this office is currently responsible for implementing DHHS regulations governing human subjects research.

Open Design

An experimental design in which both the investigator(s) and the subjects know the treatment group(s) to which subjects are assigned.


A child's biological or adoptive parent.


Making decisions for others against or apart from their wishes with the intent of doing them good.


The agreement of parent(s) or legal guardian(s) to the participation of their child or ward in research.


The scientific discipline that studies the action of drugs on living systems (animals or human beings)

Phase 1,2,3,4 Drug Trials

Different stages of testing drugs in humans, from first application in humans (Phase 1) through limited and broad clinical tests (Phase 3), to postmarketing studies (Phase 4).

Phase 1 Drug Trial

Phase 1 trials include the initial introduction of an investigational new drug into humans. These studies are typically conducted with healthy volunteers; sometimes, where the drug is intended for use in patients with a particular disease, however, such patients may participate as subjects. Phase 1 trials are designed to determine the metabolic and pharmacological actions of the drug in humans, the side effects associated with increasing doses (to establish a safe dose range), and, if possible, to gain early evidence of effectiveness; they are typically closely monitored. The ultimate goal of Phase I trials is to obtain sufficient information about the drug's pharmacokinetics and pharmacological effects to permit the design of well-controlled, sufficiently valid Phase 2 studies. Other examples of Phase 1 studies include studies of drug metabolism, structure-activity relationships, and mechanisms of actions in humans, as well as studies in which investigational drugs are used as research tools to explore biological phenomena or disease processes. The total number of subjects involved in Phase 1 investigations is generally in the range of 20-80.

Phase 2 Drug Trial

Phase 2 trials include controlled clinical studies conducted to evaluate the drug's effectiveness for a particular indication in patients with the disease or condition under study, and to determine the common short-term side effects and risks associated with the drug. These studies are typically well-controlled, closely monitored, and conducted with a relatively small number of patients, usually involving no more than several hundred subjects. 

Phase 3 Drug Trial

Phase 3 trials involve the administration of a new drug to a larger number of patients in different clinical settings to determine its safety, efficacy, and appropriate dosage. They are performed after preliminary evidence of effectiveness has been obtained, and are intended to gather necessary additional information about effectiveness and safety for evaluating the overall benefit-risk relationship of the drug, and to provide and adequate basis for physician labeling. In Phase 3 studies, the drug is used the way it would be administered when marketed. When these studies are completed and the sponsor believes that the drug is safe and effective under specific conditions, the sponsor applies to the FDA for approval to market the drug. Phase 3 trials usually involve several hundred to several thousand patient-subjects.

Phase 4 Drug Trial

Concurrent with marketing approval, FDA may seek agreement from the sponsor to conduct certain postmarketing (Phase 4) studies to delineate additional information about the drug's risks, benefits, and optimal use. These studies could include, but would not be limited to, studying different doses or schedules of administration than were used in Phase 2 studies, use of the drug in other patient populations or other stages of the disease, or use of the drug over a longer period of time.

[21 CFR §312.85].


The physical manifestation of a gene function.


Public Health Service. Part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, it includes FDA,NIH, CDC, SAMHSA, and HRSA.

Pilot Project

A research project that is tested or "piloted" on relatively few subjects so that preliminary data and parameters can be assessed before a full-blown study is developed.


A chemically inert substance given in the guise of medicine for its psychologically suggestive effect; used in controlled clinical trials to determine whether improvement and side effects may reflect imagination or anticipation rather than actual power of a drug.


A membranous, highly vascularized organ of metabolic interchange between a fetus and its mother; partly of embryonic origin and partly of maternal origin [Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 26th ed.].

Postamendments Devices

Medical devices marketed after enactment of the 1976 Medical Device Amendments.

Preamendments Devices

Medical devices marketed before enactment of the 1976 Medical Device Amendments.

Preclinical Investigations

Laboratory and animal studies designed to test the mechanisms, safety, and efficacy of an intervention prior to its applications to humans.

Predicate Devices

Currently legally marketed devices to which new devices may be found substantially equivalent under the 510(k) process.


The period of time from confirmation of implantation of a fertilized egg within the uterus until thefetus has entirely left the uterus (i.e., has been delivered). Implantation is confirmed through a presumptive sign of pregnancy such as missed menses or a positive pregnancy test [45 CFR 46.203(b)]. This "confirmation" may be in error, but, for research purposes, investigators would presume that a living fetus was present until evidence to the contrary was clear. Although fertilization occurs a week or more before implantation, the current inability to detect the fertilization event or the presence of a newly fertilized egg makes a definition of pregnancy based on implantation necessary.

Premarket Approval (PMA) Application

A PMA is the most stringent type of marketing application for medical devices; FDA approves a PMA based on presence of sufficient valid scientific evidence and reasonable assurance that the device is safe and effective for its intended use. Once approved, it can be marketed and sold within its approved labeling.

Premarket Notification (510(K))

A 510(k) application is submitted to FDA before a manufacturer plan to market a device. If the FDA agrees that the new device is substantially equivalent to a legally marketed device for which a PMA is not required, the manufacturer may market it immediately. FDA does not require clinical data for most 510(k)s. However, if clinical data are necessary to demonstrate equivalence, the clinical study must comply with IDE, IRB and human subject protection regulations.

Principal Investigator

The scientist or scholar with primary responsibility for the design and conduct of a research project. (See also: investigator.)


Any individual involuntarily confined or detained in a penal institution. The term is intended to encompass individuals sentenced to such an institution under a criminal or civil statute, individuals detained in other facilities by virtue of statutes or commitment procedures which provide alternatives to criminal prosecution or incarceration in a penal institution, and individuals detained pending arraignment, trial, or sentencing.


Having control over the extent, timing, and circumstances of sharing oneself (physically, behaviorally, or intellectually) with others.

Private Information

Private information includes information about a subject that occurs in a context in which an individual can reasonably expect that no observation or recording is taking place. It also refers to information that has been provided for specific purposes by an individual with the reasonable expectation that it will not be made public (for example, a medical record). Private information must be individually identifiable (i.e., the identity of the subject is or may readily be ascertained by the investigator or associated with the information) in order for obtaining the information to constitute research involving human subjects.]

Human Subject Research as defined by DHHS regulations


The person whose case serves as the stimulus for the study of other members of the family to identify the possible genetic factors involved in a given disease, condition, or characteristic.


Preventive or protective; a drug, vaccine, regimen, or device designed to prevent, or provide protection against, a given disease or disorder.

Prospective Studies

Studies designed to observe outcomes or events that occur subsequent to the identification of the group of subjects to be studied. Prospective studies need not involve manipulation orintervention but may be purely observational or involve only the collection of data.


The formal design or plan of an experiment or research activity; specifically, the plan submitted to an IRB for review and to an agency for research support. The protocol includes a description of the research design or methodology to be employed, the eligibility requirements for prospective subjects and controls, the treatment regimen(s), and the proposed methods of analysis that will be performed on the collected data.


Pertaining to an entire community, state, or nation; proceeding from, relating to, or affecting the whole body of people. Open to all; notorious. [Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed.].


The relative absence of extraneous matter in a drug or vaccine that may or may not be harmful to the recipient or deleterious to the product.

Quasi-Experimental Study

A study that is similar to a true experimental study except that it lacks randomassignments of subjects to treatment groups. (See also: experimental study.)



Radioactive Drug

Any substance defined as a drug in §201(b)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that exhibits spontaneous disintegration of unstable nuclei with the emission of nuclear particles or photons [21 CFR 310.3(n)]. Included are any nonradioactive reagent kit or nuclide generator that is intended to be used in the preparation of a radioactive drug and "radioactive biological products," as defined in 21 CFR 600.3(ee). Drugs such as carbon-containing compounds or potassium-containing salts containing trace quantities of naturally occurring radionuclides are not considered radioactive drugs.

Radioactive Drug Research Committee (RDRC)

An institutional committee responsible for the use ofradioactive drugs in human subjects for research purposes. Research involving human subjects that proposes to use radioactive drugs must meet various FDA requirements, including limitations on the pharmacological dose and the radiation dose. Furthermore, the exposure to radiation must be justified by the quality of the study and the importance of the information it seeks to obtain. The committee is also responsible for continuing reviewof the drug use to ensure that the research continues to comply with FDA requirements, including reporting obligations. The committee must include experts in nuclear medicine and the use of radioactive drugs, as well as other medical and scientific members.

[21 CFR 36.1]

Radiopaque Contrast Agents

Materials that stop or attenuate radiation that is passed through the body, creating an outline on film of the organ(s) being examined. Contrast agents, sometimes called "dyes," do not contain radioisotopes. When such agents are used, exposure to radiation results only from the X-ray equipment used in the examination. The chemical structure of radiopaque contrast agents can produce a variety of adverse reactions, some of which may be severe—and possibly life-threatening—in certain individuals.


Drugs (compounds or materials) that may be labeled or tagged with a radioisotope. These materials are largely physiological or subpharmacological in action, and, in many cases, function much like materials found in the body. The principal risk associated with these materials is the consequent radiation exposure to the body or to specific organ systems when they are injected into the body.

Random, Randomly, Random Assignment, Randomization, Randomized

Assignment of subjects to different treatments, interventions, or conditions according to chance rather than systematically (e.g., as dictated by the standard or usual response to their condition, history, or prognosis, or according to demographic characteristics). Random assignment of subjects to conditions is an essential element of experimentalresearch because it makes more likely the probability that differences observed between subject groups are the result of the experimental intervention.

Recombinant DNA Technology

"The ability to chop up DNA, the stuff of which genes are made, and move the pieces, [which] permits the direct examination of the human genome," and the identification of the genetic components of a wide variety of disorders [Holtzman (1989), p. 1]. Recombinant DNA technology is also used to develop diagnostic screens and tests, as well as drugs and biologics for treating diseases with genetic components.

Related to the Research

An event is “related to the research procedures” if in the opinion of the principal investigator, it was more likely than not to be caused by the research procedures or if it is more likely that not that the event affects the rights and welfare of current participants.


Acronym for Roentgen Equivalent in Man; the unit of measurement for a dose of an ionizing radiation that produces the same biological effect as a unit of absorbed does (1 rad) of ordinary X-rays. One millirem is equal to 1/1000 of a rem.


A period in which the signs and symptoms of a disease are diminished or in abeyance. The term "remission" is used when one cannot say with confidence that the disease has been cured.


Payment for participation in research. (Note: It is wise to confine use of the term "compensation" to payment or provision of care for research-related injuries.) (Compare: compensation.)


A systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. Activities that meet this definition may be funded or unfunded, or may be conducted as a component of another program not usually considered research. For example, demonstration and service programs may include evaluation components, which constitute research activities under this definition.

Human Subject Research as defined by DHHS regulations

Research Involving a Human Being as an Experimental Subject

An activity, for research purposes, where there is an intervention or interaction with a human being for the primary purpose of obtaining data regarding the effect of the intervention or interaction (32 CFR 219.102(f), reference (c)). Examples of interventions or interactions include, but are not limited to, a physical procedure, a drug, a manipulation of the subject or subject's environment, the withholding of an intervention that would have been undertaken if not for the research purpose. This definition does not include:

• Activities carried out for purposes of diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of injury and disease in members of the Armed Forces and other mission essential personnel under Force Health Protection programs of the Department of Defense.

• Authorized health and medical activities as part of the reasonable practice of medicine or other health professions.

• Monitoring for compliance of individuals and organizations with requirements applicable to military, civilian, or contractor personnel or to organizational units. This includes such activities as drug testing, occupational health and safety monitoring, and security clearance reviews.

Human Subject Research as defined by the Department of Defense

Research involving intentional exposure of a human subject 

Means a study of a substance in which the exposure to the substance experienced by a human subject participating in the study would not have occurred but for the human subject's participation in the study.


Responsible Project Investigator - a non-visiting member of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign faculty or staff who takes ultimate responsibility for the protection of the subjects and the conduct of the human subjects’ research described on his or her IRB application.

Respect for Persons

An ethical principle discussed in the Belmont Report requiring that individualautonomy be respected and that persons with diminished autonomy be protected.

Retrospective Studies

Research conducted by reviewing records from the past (e.g., birth and death certificates, medical records, school records, or employment records) or by obtaining information about past events elicited through interviews or surveys. Case control studies are an example of this type of research.


The probability of harm or injury (physical, psychological, social, or economic) occurring as a result of participation in a research study. Both the probability and magnitude of possible harm may vary from minimal to significant. Federal regulations define only "minimal risk." (See also: minimal risk.)


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; includes the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and the Center on Mental Health Services. Previously the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA). (See also: ADAMHA.)

Scientific Review Group

A group of highly regarded experts in a given field, convened by NIH to advise NIH on the scientific merit of applications for research grants and contracts. Scientific review groups are also required to review the ethical aspects of proposed involvement of human subjects. Various kinds of scientific review groups exist, and are known by different names in different institutes of the NIH (e.g., Study Sections, Initial Review Groups, Contract Review Committees, or Technical Evaluation Committees). 


A US Cabinet Officer. In the context of DHHS-conducted or -supported research, usually refers to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. 

Serious Adverse Event

Any adverse experience occurring at any dose or level of participation that results in any of the following outcomes: death, a life-threatening experience, hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization, a persistent or significant disability or capacity, or a congenital anomaly or birth defect. 


Indicating the presence of immunological evidence of a specific infection [Stedman's Medical Dictionary, 26th ed.]. 

Serious Non-Compliance

Is defined as failure to follow any of the regulations and policies described in this document or failure to follow the determinations of the IRB and which, in the judgment of either the IRB Chair or the convened IRB, increases risks to participants, decreases potential benefits, or compromises the integrity of the human research protection program. Research being conducted without prior IRB approval is considered serious noncompliance.  

Severely Debilitating 

Means diseases or conditions that cause major irreversible morbidity. Examples of severely debilitating conditions include blindness, loss of arm, leg, hand or foot, loss of hearing, paralysis or stroke.

Significant Risk Device

Significant risk device (SR) is an investigational device that: (1) is intended as an implant and presents a potential for serious risk to the health, safety, or welfare of a subject; (2) is for use in supporting or sustaining human life and represents a potential for serious risk to the health, safety, or welfare of a subject; (3) is for a use of substantial importance in diagnosing, curing, mitigating, or treating disease or otherwise preventing impairment of human health and presents a potential for serious risk to the health, safety, or welfare of a subject; or (4) otherwise presents a potential for serious risk to a subject. The SR determination encompasses the proposed use and not the device alone (e.g., need for additional procedures, such as surgical implantation, as part of the study should be included in risk assessment.

Single-Masked Design

Typically, a study design in which the investigator, but not the subject, knows the identity of the treatment assignment. Occasionally the subject, but not the investigator, knows the assignment. Sometimes called "single-blind design." 

Site Visit

A visit by agency officials, representatives, or consultants to the location of a research activity to assess the adequacy of IRB protection of human subjects or the capability of personnel to conduct the research. 

Social Experimentation

Systematic manipulation of, or experimentation in, social or economic systems; used in planning public policy. 

Sponsor (of a Drug Trial)

A person or entity that initiates a clinical investigation of a drug—usually the drug manufacturer or research institution that developed the drug. The sponsor does not actually conduct the investigation, but rather distributes the new drug to investigators and physicians for clinical trials. The drug is administered to subjects under the immediate direction of an investigator who is not also a sponsor. A clinical investigator may, however, serve as a sponsor-investigator. The sponsor assumes responsibility for investigating the new drug, including responsibility for compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The sponsor, for example, is responsible for obtaining FDA approval to conduct a trial and for reporting the results of the trial to the FDA. 


An individual who both initiates and actually conducts, alone or with others, a clinical investigation. Corporations, agencies, or other institutions do not qualify as sponsor-investigators. 

Statistical Significance

A determination of the probability of obtaining the particular distribution of the data on the assumption that the null hypothesis is true. Or, more simply put, the probability of coming to a false positive conclusion. If the probability is less than or equal to a predetermined value (e.g., 0.05 or 0.01), then the null hypothesis is rejected at that significance level (0.05 or 0.01). 

Sterility (1)

The absence of viable contaminating microorganisms; aseptic state. 

Sterility (2)

The inability to procreate; the inability to conceive or induce conception. 


Express IRB provisions that must be satisfactorily addressed by the RPI before a human subjects research project can be approved and any involvement of human subjects in the research may begin. Under no circumstances do stipulations constitute contingent approval of the research project—approval is neither given nor implied until the RPI has received written notice of IRB approval.

Study Section

See: scientific review group. 

Subjects (Human)

See: human subjects. 


Studies designed to obtain information from a large number of respondents through written questionnaires, telephone interviews, door-to-door canvassing, or similar procedures. 

Systematic Investigation

An activity that involves a prospective research plan which incorporates data collection, both quantitative and qualitative, and data analysis to answer a research question.  Investigations designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge are those designed to draw general conclusions (i.e., knowledge gained from a study may be applied to populations outside of the specific study population), inform policy, or generalize findings.

Human Subject Research as defined by DHHS regulations



Test Article

Any drug (including a biological product for human use), medical device for human use, human food additive, color additive, electronic product, or any other article subject to regulation.

Therapeutic Intent

The research physician's intent to provide some benefit to improving a subject's condition (e.g., prolongation of life, shrinkage of tumor, or improved quality of life, even though cure or dramatic improvement cannot necessarily be effected.) This term is sometimes associated with Phase 1 drug studies in which potentially toxic drugs are given to an individual with the hope of inducing some improvement in the patient's condition as well as assessing the safety and pharmacology of a drug. 


Treatment intended and expected to alleviate a disease or disorder. 

Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations

See: 45 CFR 46

Unanticipated Problems

Include subject complaints, withdrawal from research, and breaches of subject confidentiality. 

Unanticipated Problem Involving Risks to Participants or Others (Unanticipated Problem)

Any event or information that (1) was unforeseen and (2) indicates that the research procedures caused harm to participants or others or indicates that participants or others are at increased risk of harm.

Unanticipated Risks

Include any information discovered during the course of research that may affect the risk–benefit assessment for the research. 


An event is “unexpected” when its specificity and severity are not accurately reflected in the informed consent document.

Uniform Anatomical Gift Act

Legislation adopted by all 50 States and the District of Columbia that indicates procedures for donation of all or part of a decedent's body for such activities as medical education, scientific research, and organ transplantation. 


A biologic product generally made from an infectious agent or its components—a virus, bacterium, or other microorganism—that is killed (inactive) or live-attenuated (active, although weakened). Vaccines may also be biochemically synthesized or made through recombinant DNA techniques. 

Variable (Noun)

An element or factor that the research is designed to study, either as an experimental intervention or a possible outcome (or factor affecting the outcome) of that intervention. 


As it pertains to the neonate, means being able, after delivery, to survive (given the benefit of available medical therapy) to the point of independently maintaining heartbeat and respiration. The Secretary may, from time to time, take in account medical advances and publish in the Federal Register guidelines to assist in determining whether a neonate is viable for purposes of 45 CFR 46. If a neonate is viable, then it may be included in research only to the extent permitted and in accordance with the requirements of 45 CFR 46. 

Viable Infant

When referring to a delivered or expelled fetus, the term "viable infant" means likely to survive to the point of sustaining life independently, given the benefit of available medical therapy [45 CFR 46.203(d)]. This judgment is made by a physician. In accordance with DHHS regulations, the Secretary, DHHS, may publish guidelines to assist in the determination of viability. Such guidelines were published in 1975, and specify an estimated gestational age of 20 weeks or more and a body weight of 500 grams or more as indices of fetal viability [Federal Register 40 (August 8, 1975): 33552]. These indices depend on the state of present technology and may be revised periodically. (See also: nonviable fetus.) 


Free of coercion, duress, or undue inducement. Used in the research context to refer to a subject's decision to participate (or to continue to participate) in a research activity.


A person placed by the court under the care of a guardian [Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed.]. 

Waste Material

Material originally collected for clinical or diagnostic purposes but that is no longer needed for that purpose.