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Institutional Review Board (IRB), FWA00010976

About the IRB

The IRB is part of the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). The IRB reviews proposed human research studies to ensure compliance with federal (45 CFR 46) and state (22VAC40-890-10 et seq.) regulations. The IRB ensures the protection of the rights, welfare, and wellbeing of clients or staff involved as subjects in research.

Not all research involving humans will require VDSS IRB submission or approval. Only activities meeting regulatory definitions of (a) "research" and (b) "human subjects" and where (c) VDSS is "engaged" in the conduct of human subjects research require VDSS IRB review and approval.

"Research" means a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. Activities which meet this definition constitute research for purposes of this policy, whether or not they are conducted or supported under a program which is considered research for other purposes. For example, some demonstration and service programs may include research activities.

"Human subject" means 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.

Also see Virginia Administrative Code 22VAC40-890-10 et seq.

The proposed research could involve activities conducted or authorized by any of the following:

  • VDSS
  • Local departments of social services
  • VDSS-licensed facilities; or
  • VDSS-authorized contractors

Questions or IRB applications should be submitted to

Information for Research Participants

Subsection 1: Questions to ask before you agree to participate in a research study

The federal government's Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) suggests some questions that you should ask before you agree to participate in a research study:

  1. Why is the research being done?
  2. What will be done to me as part of the research?
  3. How will I benefit from the research?
  4. Could the research hurt me?
  5. What will the researcher do with my information?
  6. Will the research cost me anything?
  7. How long will the study last?
  8. What happens if I decide to leave the study early?
  9. Who should I call if I have a question about the research?

For resources designed to help you better understand research and find the information to help you decide whether to participate in research click this link:

Subsection 2: Bill of Rights for Research Participants

As a research participant, you have the right to:

  1. Be free of pressure from anyone else when deciding if you wish to take part in a study
  2. Make up your mind about taking part in a study without being rushed
  3. Be told what question, topic, or issue is being studied
  4. Be told what will happen and what the procedures are
  5. Be told about the potential risks or discomforts, if any, of the research
  6. Be told if you can expect any benefit from taking part and, if so, what the benefit might be
  7. Be told if there will be no direct benefit to you
  8. Ask questions about the study at any time before, during or after the study
  9. Refuse to take part in the study at any time
  10. Quit after the study starts, without any penalty
  11. Receive a copy of your Informed Consent Form to keep.

Do you have a question, concern or complaint about your involvement in a research study or your rights as a research participant? If so, please feel free to contact the VDSS IRB or the VDSS research participant's Ombudsman. You may also call us collect at 804-726-7076 (IRB chair) or 804-726-7617 (Ombudsman).



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