Institutional Oversights Offices

Federal and State laws and University policy require assurances that research conducted at the University is done with the greatest regard for the health and safety of the entire University community and all research subjects. To meet these goals, the University of Chicago has established multiple standing Oversight Committees. Each committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing the methodology (protocol) of every research project as it relates to specific health and safety concerns. It is not the responsibility of the committees to judge the scientific merit of the proposed research, only to verify that the research being conducted poses minimal health and safety risks. The principal investigator of a project is the individual responsible for assuring that adequate health and safety standards are used in the research being conducted.

Regardless of the source of funding, any research project conducted at the University which uses: animals or humans as subjects; uses University of Chicago students as research subjects; involves a biohazardous agent, or a radioactive material; or uses a radioactive isotope on a human subject, must have the approval of one of the University’s Oversight Committees to begin the project. Oversight approvals for research protocols must be obtained before work on the research project may proceed. Typically, Federal funding agencies require Committee approval no more than 60 days after the date of proposal submission. Approval at the time the proposal is submitted is preferred. Almost all sponsors of research projects, especially the federal agencies, will not release funding until research protocols have been approved by the institution.

The descriptions below summarize the primary responsibilities of each of the committees and the current chairs. For further information regarding the University’s Oversight Committees, please feel free to contact the divisional dean’s office responsible for a particular committee or University Research Administration. – October 2003.

Committee: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee


  • Reviews, approves, disapproves or requires changes in all research and teaching activities involving animals
  • Approves protocols for use of animals in research and teaching
  • Reviews concerns involving the care and use of animals
  • Makes recommendations regarding animal programs, facilities, or personnel

Committees: Human Subjects (IRB)


Committee: Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)


  • Reviews and approves all research involving biohazards, such as infectious agents, genetically altered organisms and agents, and recombinant DNA

Committee: Human Use of Radioisotopes & Radioactive Drug Research (RDRC)


  • Reviews and approves experimental use of radioactive isotopes in human subjects
  • Advises IRB
  • Determines safety of radioactive drugs for human research
  • Determines if use of radioactive isotopes in humans complies with licensing and regulatory requirements

Committee: University Radiation Safety Committee (URSC)


  • Approves use of radioactive materials
  • Completes safety evaluations of proposed uses of radioactive material, considering adequate facilities and equipment, training and experience of user, operating and handling procedures
  • The Office of Radiation Safety oversees training and handles the purchase and monitoring of any radioisotopes.