March 17, 2020

COVID-19 and Human Subjects Research

Please see the March 17 letter to the community from IRB Chair Jeff Christensen.

Subject: IRB response to COVID-19

Dear Lewis & Clark Faculty and Staff,

In the context of rapidly evolving circumstances regarding COVID-19 and to further the efforts of Lewis & Clark College’s commitment to promote social distancing and protecting members of our community, the Institutional Review Board (IRB) has issued some revised standards related to human subjects-related research visits. In summary, research visits should be performed remotely (e.g., by phone, Zoom, or other means) whenever possible. Studies involving face-to-face interaction with no direct drug or therapeutic benefit are to be postponed until further notice, effective immediately (March 17, 2020).

Changes to a study’s protocol to replace in-person research visits with “remote” options must be approved in advance by the IRB as a Modification to the Study. For more expedited review, be sure to email your revisions to and put COVID-19/study protocol in the subject line, so that staff can get your revisions to committee members as quickly as possible.

Currently, the IRB is still accepting new applications for review and will continue to review application revisions throughout the academic school year. However, priority will be given to all inquiries, requests, and modifications related to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19. If a new study has face-to-face contact with human subjects, it will not be approved at this time. Additionally, faculty advisers of student research projects will be expected to disseminate this information to students and ensure that these standards are held in compliance. Any questions can be emailed to IRB staff at

As decisions are made on how to best respond to the COVID-19 infections, the IRB wants to reiterate that our primary concern is for the safety of our research participants and the research team members who represent Lewis & Clark College. We appreciate your flexibility and patience as we continue to work within these challenging contexts.


Jeffrey Christensen
IRB Chair