Guidance for IRBs, Clinical
Considerations When Transferring
Guidance for IRBs, Clinical Investigators,
Considerations When Transferring Clinical
Investigation Oversight to Another IRB
BACKGROUND ............................................................................................................... 1
WHEN OVERSIGHT OF A PREVIOUSLY APPROVED CLINICAL
INVESTIGATION TRANSFERS FROM THE ORIGINAL IRB TO ANOTHER IRB NOT
PART OF THE SAME INSTITUTION ..................................................................................... 4
SPECIAL SITUATIONS ............................................................................................... 12
A. Transfer of IRB Oversight from one IRB to Another IRB in the Same Institution and
B. Transfer of a Clinical Investigation to a New Research Site Requiring IRB Review ............... 13
ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS ABOUT TRANSFERRING OVERSIGHT OF A
does not create or confer any rights for or on any person and does not operate to bind FDA or the public.
You can use an alternative approach if the approach satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes
and regulations. If you want to discuss an alternative approach, contact the FDA staff responsible for
implementing this guidance. If you cannot identify the appropriate FDA staff, call the appropriate
number listed on the title page of this guidance.
This guidance discusses the regulatory responsibilities of institutional review boards (IRBs),
investigation under FDA’s jurisdiction is transferred from one IRB to another IRB. This
guidance also addresses questions that have been previously raised concerning procedures and
processes that are required and/or recommended by FDA when such oversight is transferred.
FDA encourages individuals to contact the agency directly to discuss any unusual circumstances.
To enhance human subject protections and reduce regulatory burden, FDA and the Office for
regulatory requirements and guidance for human subjects research. This guidance document was
developed as a part of these efforts. For studies subject to 45 CFR part 46 (i.e., studies that are
funded, conducted, or supported by the Department of Health and Human Services), OHRP
issued a draft guidance entitled, “Considerations in Transferring a Previously Approved
Research Project to a New IRB or Research Institution.”
FDA's guidance documents, including this guidance, do not establish legally enforceable
responsibilities. Instead, guidances describe the Agency's current thinking on a topic and should
be viewed only as recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are
cited. The use of the word should in Agency guidances means that something is suggested or
recommended, but not required.
This guidance has been prepared by the Office of Good Clinical Practice, Office of Medical Products and Tobacco
with input from the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), Center for Biologics Evaluation and
Research (CBER) and Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) at the Food and Drug Administration.
OHRP’s guidance is available at:
An IRB is any board, committee, or other group formally designated by an institution to review,
approve the initiation of, and conduct periodic review of biomedical research involving human
subjects. The primary purpose of such review is to assure the protection of the rights and welfare
of the human subjects.
To prevent lapses in human subject protection, it is generally preferred
FDA recognizes, however, that clinical investigations that were originally approved by one IRB
are sometimes transferred to another IRB for subsequent review and oversight. These transfers
may give rise to a number of legal, regulatory, administrative, and logistical considerations for
the parties involved.
The research entities involved in a transfer of IRB review responsibilities for a clinical
The original IRB, which for the purpose of this guidance means the IRB originally
designated to review a clinical investigation and that transfers oversight responsibility to
The receiving IRB, which for the purpose of this guidance means the IRB that accepts
The transfer of review responsibility for a clinical investigation from one IRB to another should
approval or the protection of human subjects, and with minimal disruption of research activities.
This guidance discusses possible actions that sponsors, clinical investigators, and IRB staff for
the original and receiving IRBs should consider before, during, and after any such transfer.
Ideally, IRBs will have their own procedures and/or institutional policies in place to provide
general guidance if oversight of a clinical investigation must be transferred to another IRB.
We recommend that the original IRB work closely with the clinical investigator, the sponsor, and
and continued protection of human subjects. Effective communication among the IRBs,
sponsors, clinical investigators, FDA, and others (e.g., institutional members, Data Safety
Monitoring Board, Contract Research Organization (CRO)) is critical to ensuring a smooth
transition to another IRB. FDA recommends that any impending changes in oversight be
communicated as early as possible in the transfer process. In some situations, a transfer may
disrupt study enrollment or other aspects of a clinical investigation, whether because of
unforeseen difficulties in the transfer process or because of concerns arising from the study.
FDA believes that providing this guidance will help to ensure that serious disruptions are rare.
FDA’s requirements place the responsibility for securing IRB review and approval on the
and on the
21 CFR 56.102(g).
21 CFR 312.66.
sponsor in clinical investigations of medical devices.
In practice, however, the party that
transfer and the parties involved. For example, an institution’s IRB may decide to transfer
oversight for its pediatric clinical investigations to an IRB with such expertise within the same
institution. Whoever initiates the transfer of oversight, the clinical investigator and sponsor
continue to be responsible for their respective regulatory obligations (e.g., making any
modifications to the informed consent document required by the receiving IRB).
issue of transfer of oversight from one IRB to another, the requirements governing review,
oversight, and conduct of clinical investigations apply nonetheless. While this guidance provides
recommendations to facilitate such a transfer, it does not create or imply new requirements
and/or responsibilities for IRBs, sponsors, or clinical investigators.
Transfers of IRB oversight of a clinical investigation may occur for a number of different
temporary inability of an IRB to meet its obligations, or as a result of IRB non-compliance.
Specific examples include:
A medical school decides to transfer oversight responsibility for a category of its clinical
investigations (e.g., drug research, device research) to another IRB.
to establish an additional IRB and transfers oversight of some clinical investigations to
system by closing one or more of its existing IRBs and transfers oversight to an
maintaining its own IRB and decides to cease operations of its IRB and transfer oversight
of its clinical investigations to another IRB.
share the workload.
A fire, flood, or other disaster temporarily prevents an IRB from fulfilling its
under 21 CFR 56.121.
A sponsor decides to transfer a clinical investigation when an investigator moves to a
new research site.
21 CFR 812.40.
See, e.g., 21 CFR 56.109, 21 CFR 312.66, and 21 CFR 812.40.
21 CFR 56.121(b) provides that an IRB may be disqualified if FDA determines that the IRB has refused or
rights or welfare of the human subjects in a clinical investigation.
The complexity and duration of the IRB transfer process itself is expected to vary, depending on
transferred. For example, transfer of IRB oversight due to purely administrative reasons such as
consolidating IRB workload may be relatively quick and straight-forward, whereas a transfer of
oversight due to the original IRB’s non-compliance might be lengthier and involve more
complicated legal, regulatory, administrative, and logistical considerations. In general, the type
of IRBs involved (e.g., academic, hospital-based, independent) would not affect the steps to
consider when transferring oversight.
Section III of this guidance document provides recommendations concerning the transfer of IRB
oversight from one IRB to another IRB that is not part of the same institution (including
independent IRBs). Section IV of this document addresses several special situations: the
transfer of oversight from one IRB to another IRB operating within the same institution, the
temporary transfer of clinical investigation oversight to another IRB that occurs as a result of a
natural disaster or for other reasons, and the transfer of a clinical investigation to a new research
site requiring IRB review.
WHEN OVERSIGHT OF A PREVIOUSLY APPROVED CLINICAL
INVESTIGATION TRANSFERS FROM THE ORIGINAL IRB TO ANOTHER
IRB NOT PART OF THE SAME INSTITUTION
When transferring IRB review and oversight of clinical investigations from one IRB to another
between the original and receiving IRBs, if appropriate.
The agreement should address how
each of these steps in more detail below. Please note, this list is not meant to be exhaustive.
Additional actions may be necessary and/or appropriate.
Identifying those studies for which IRB oversight is being transferred;
Ensuring the availability and retention of pertinent records;
Establishing an effective date for transfer of oversight, including records, for the clinical
Conducting a review of the study(ies) by the receiving IRB, where appropriate, before it
accepts responsibility for the study(ies);
Confirming or establishing the date for the next continuing review;
Determining whether the consent form needs to be revised;
FDA encourages the use of central IRBs, in appropriate circumstances, as a mechanism to reduce burden and
decrease duplicative efforts that do not contribute to meaningful human subject protection. For additional
information relating to the use of central IRBs, see FDA’s Guidance, “Using a Centralized IRB Review Process in
Multicenter Clinical Trials,” available at
necessary as the process may be addressed by the institution’s established procedures (assuming all appropriate steps
described in Section III are covered).
In general, some IRBs may have a policy not to transfer or accept a study until a final transfer contract or similar
Notifying the key parties; and
Updating IRB registration information.
One of the first steps in the transfer process is determining for which studies IRB oversight is
understanding of this as it will help to bring certainty and continuity to the process and allow for
effective planning, particularly when a large number of studies is being transferred. The number
of studies, the risk posed by them, and the circumstances leading to the transfer, as discussed
below, will influence subsequent steps in the transfer process (e.g., whether records are obtained
from the original IRB or the clinical investigator/sponsor, how the transfer date is established,
and whether the receiving IRB decides to conduct a review before accepting responsibility for
(2) Ensuring the availability and retention of pertinent records.
Before the receiving IRB accepts oversight of the transferred clinical investigation, it should
obtain copies of pertinent records to allow it to meet its review and ongoing oversight
responsibilities for the study once transferred.
Pertinent records include documents such as the
minutes of IRB meetings at which the research was reviewed; reports of unanticipated problems
involving risk to human subjects and others; reports of IRB-conducted audits, if any; and
correspondence with the investigator, sponsor, and/or FDA.
With concurrence of the sponsor, the original IRB should make pertinent records
This can be accomplished by providing the receiving
It is important to note that
commercial information. Alternatively, the receiving IRB may decide to obtain the
records directly from the clinical investigator and/or sponsor. If records are obtained in
this manner, the receiving IRB should also obtain meeting minutes from the original IRB
as this information may be critical to the receiving IRB’s assessment of the adequacy of
the previous review (e.g., discussion of controverted issues, quorum, etc). The receiving
IRB may choose to obtain records directly from the clinical investigator and/or sponsor,
Obtaining pertinent records about studies in advance of oversight transfer should help receiving IRBs meet their
and (b), IRBs must follow written procedures for certain review activities; these written procedures may be an
important resource for determining the records that should be transferred.
In some cases, sponsors may not agree to the transfer of records to a proposed IRB. In such cases, the sponsor
For more information on creating, maintaining, and archiving electronic records for regulatory purposes, see
for example, when a transfer occurs as a result of non-compliance actions of the original
Both the original IRB and the receiving IRB should maintain adequate records regarding
Such records should include: any
being transferred; the expiration dates of IRB approval; the research sites affected; the
names of the associated sponsors, clinical investigators, and CROs; the identities of the
original IRB and the receiving IRB; and the date(s) on which the receiving IRB accepts
responsibility for oversight of the clinical investigations. In addition, the original and
receiving IRBs should keep adequate records of all communications to all affected
sponsors, clinical investigators, and FDA, and comply with all other recordkeeping
Under FDA regulations, IRB records related to the review of a clinical investigation must
be retained for at least three (3) years after the completion of the research, and the records
must be accessible for inspection and copying by FDA at reasonable times and in a
Because FDA may require access to the records at any reasonable
the institution that housed the original IRB, a CRO or other responsible third party will
maintain the records once clinical investigation oversight has been transferred. The party
that assumes responsibility for the records is responsible for ensuring that they are
retained in accordance with 21 CFR 56.115(b).
As a general matter, the original and receiving IRBs have the flexibility to work out any
the records remain accessible for inspection and copying by authorized representatives of
FDA at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner. For example, the original IRB may
decide to transfer to the receiving IRB the records related to the clinical investigations
that are still active and retain the records for “closed” clinical investigations, or the
receiving IRB may choose to receive all of the records.
When the original and
Under some circumstances (e.g., if the original and transferring IRBs are located at the same institution), FDA
not be necessary. If the files are mutually accessible, the IRBs should make appropriate arrangements for viewing
and using the files.
Under 21 CFR 56.115(a)(4), IRBs are required to keep copies of all correspondence between the IRB and the
21 CFR 56.115(b). IRBs may have their own record-keeping requirements that supplement FDA’s requirements.
If storage space is a concern, the receiving IRB could, for example, scan the records as certified copies of the
originals so that they can be stored electronically, as long as the records remain accessible for inspection and
copying by FDA. For additional information, see FDA’s guidance, “Computerized Systems Used in Clinical
Investigations,” available at
they reach a clear understanding of their respective roles to avoid confusion and to ensure
appropriate responsibility for and access to the documents.
There may be circumstances when the original IRB reaches an agreement with the
be able to commit to retaining the documents for at least 3 years after the completion of
the research. For instance, if an IRB ceases operations but retains responsibility for some
records for trials that are still ongoing, either by physically maintaining these records or
by reaching a storage arrangement with a responsible third party. In this instance, we
recommend that the original IRB contact FDA to discuss possible retention
In this situation, the original IRB should make arrangements to transfer
(3) Establishing an effective date for transfer of oversight, including records, for the
FDA recommends establishing a transfer date for each clinical investigation, including records,
for which oversight is being transferred. Although there is no regulatory requirement to establish
a transfer date, such an action promotes continuity, helps prevent a lapse in IRB coverage, and
minimizes confusion regarding which IRB is responsible for review and action if an
unanticipated problem should arise or if the clinical investigation needs to be quickly suspended
or terminated. When choosing a transfer date, the affected IRBs should allow enough time for
all appropriate actions, communications, and agreements to occur.
Depending on the circumstances of the transfer, the transfer date may be established using one of
In the written agreement, the exact date is specified in advance between the original IRB
and the receiving IRB; or
the clinical investigation by the receiving IRB. For example, if the receiving IRB decides
to perform an initial review of the clinical investigation, the transfer may take effect on
the date the receiving IRB makes its decision to approve, require modification in (to
secure approval), or disapprove the clinical investigation. In this situation, the receiving
IRB should notify the original IRB and other involved parties of the date of its approval
and acceptance of oversight responsibilities.
Note that if both the original and receiving IRBs are located within the same institution, the
Factors to consider in selecting an appropriate record retention arrangement may include the reasons for the
transfer, as well as the nature of the clinical investigations and the records. Generally speaking, and depending on
the specific facts, FDA would expect an IRB that has accepted record keeping responsibilities to retain the
documentation for at least 3 years after closure of the IRB, in accordance with 21 CFR 56.115(b), or transfer the
records to the receiving IRB.
When a large number of clinical investigations are being transferred, it may be preferable to
phase-in the transfer over a period of weeks or months to facilitate a smooth transition.
If oversight is being transferred because of the closure of an IRB, the original IRB is expected to
oversight by a new IRB cannot be obtained by the closure date, approval for the research would
be considered suspended or terminated with no further subject enrollment.
19, 20, 21
IRB must follow its written procedures for ensuring prompt reporting to its institutional officials
and FDA of the suspension or termination, as required under 21 CFR 56.108(b)(3).
investigators any instances of IRB withdrawal of approval of an investigation or a part of an
investigation within 5 working days after receipt of the withdrawal of approval.
Because the regulations do not address transfer of IRB oversight, it is left to the receiving IRB to
decide whether to conduct a review of the clinical investigation prior to the next continuing
review date established by the original IRB.
In practice, however, IRBs often choose to
A number of options are available to the receiving IRB, depending on the circumstances. The
if appropriate. Review by the receiving IRB is strongly recommended
where the transfer occurs because of noncompliance by the original IRB, as reflected in
an FDA Warning Letter to that IRB. In addition, the receiving IRB should also consider
conducting an initial review for higher risk studies, such as those involving an exception
See 21 CFR 56.103.
See 21 CFR 312.60, 21 CFR 312.66, 21 CFR 812.40, 21 CFR 812.42 and 21 CFR 812.64.
When IRB approval of a clinical investigation is suspended or terminated, IRBs should establish procedures to
subjects receive appropriate care during any period in which the IRB and clinical investigator are attempting to
resolve any remaining issues. For more information regarding suspensions or terminations of IRB approval, you
may refer to FDA’s guidance, “IRB Continuing Review after Clinical Investigation Approval,” available at:
21 CFR 812.150(b)(2).
21 CFR 312.31(a)(2).
In other contexts, FDA recognizes that one IRB may rely on the review of another qualified IRB to avoid
For categories of research that are eligible for review through an expedited review procedure, see:
from the informed consent requirements under 21 CFR 50.24, unapproved therapies with
a high risk of morbidity and/or mortality, novel therapies including new cellular or gene
therapies, and those flagged by the original IRB for more frequent review. The receiving
IRB may also decide to conduct an initial review if, for example, the IRB believes that
there may be local issues that would warrant its review. Initial review should also be
considered where the receiving IRB has no familiarity with the original IRB, such that it
may not be comfortable wholly relying on the original IRB’s review and approval. The
IRB should consider whether to conduct an initial review of device studies to make an
independent determination of significant or non-significant device risk, particularly when
the transfer occurs because of noncompliance by the original IRB.
Undertake a continuing review at the time of transfer, either by the convened IRB or
under an expedited review procedure, if appropriate. Continuing review may be
appropriate when the receiving IRB already has responsibility for a site in a multi-site
study (i.e., is familiar with the study because the receiving IRB has already reviewed and
approved the study protocol).
Not undertake a review until the next continuing review date. This option may be
practice, however, IRBs often choose to perform some sort of informal assessment to
ensure that the records appear to be in order and to help prepare for the continuing review
when it comes due. Because a request for IRB approval of a protocol or informed
consent change may occur even before the continuing review date, it is important to note
that receiving IRBs must perform either an initial or continuing review before approving
substantive changes to the research or the informed consent document to ensure that they
are sufficiently familiar with the study.
of research beyond the expiration date of IRB approval. When the receiving IRB’s review of the
transferred research does not occur prior to the end of the approval period specified by the
original IRB, IRB approval expires automatically and all research activities involving human
subjects must stop. Enrollment of new subjects cannot occur after the expiration of IRB
FDA reminds receiving IRBs that they also have the authority to suspend or terminate approval
of research in circumstances where the clinical investigation is not being conducted in
accordance with the receiving IRB’s requirements or has been associated with unexpected
serious harm to subjects.
The receiving IRB must promptly report any suspension or
21 CFR 812.66.
See 21 CFR 56.103(a), 21 CFR 56.108(a)(4), and 21 CFR 56.110(b)(2). There is an exception to this general
requirement: changes necessary to eliminate apparent immediate hazards to human subjects may be initiated
without IRB review and approval, as described in 21 CFR 56.108(a)(4).
See, e.g., 21 CFR 56.103(a).
For information regarding lapses in IRB approval and temporary continuing participation of already enrolled
subjects, see FDA’s guidance, “IRB Continuing Review after Clinical Investigation Approval,” available at:
21 CFR 56.113.
appropriate institutional officials, and FDA.
FDA recommends that sponsors also be
IRB’s concerns so that disruptions of the study can be minimized and any human subject
protection issues can be addressed.
Sponsors must also report such information to FDA. Sponsors of drug/biologic studies are
discontinuation of a clinical investigation in an information amendment to the Investigational
New Drug (IND) application. Sponsors of device studies are required under 21 CFR
812.150(b)(2) to notify FDA and all reviewing IRBs and participating investigators of any
withdrawal of IRB approval of an investigation or a part of an investigation within 5 working
days after receipt of the withdrawal.
If the receiving IRB performs a review at the time of clinical investigation transfer (whether an
initial or a continuing review), it may choose to maintain the anniversary date of approval
established by the original IRB or decide to establish a new anniversary date. If the receiving
IRB decides to establish a new anniversary date, the new date must be within one year of the
receiving IRB’s review.
If the receiving IRB does not conduct a review of the clinical investigation at the time of transfer,
the full approval period established at the time of the most recent review by the original IRB.
For example, if the original IRB initially approved the clinical investigation for one year
effective July 1, 2011, and the clinical investigation is transferred to a new IRB effective October
1, 2011, the expiration date of IRB approval would continue to be July 1, 2012, unless or until
the receiving IRB establishes a new expiration date. Note that review in accordance with a
newly established expiration date would nonetheless need to be conducted prior to the original
July 1, 2012 expiration date.
The informed consent document is required to contain “[a]n explanation of whom to contact for
answers to pertinent questions about the research and research subjects’ rights, and whom to
contact in the event of a research-related injury to the subject.”
Therefore, when a change in
to contact in the event of research-related injury, the new contact information must be provided
For further information about reporting of suspensions or terminations of IRB approval, refer to FDA’s guidance
on “IRB Continuing Review after Clinical Investigation Approval,” available at:
We note that, the device regulations place this responsibility on investigators. However, IRBs may nonetheless
21 CFR 50.25(a)(7).
to subjects. For subjects who are already enrolled (whether or not they are active), this may be
accomplished in a number of ways, including sending a letter providing the relevant contact
For new subjects, the informed consent, assent, and/or parental permission form
The clinical investigator should
Other changes to the consent form may also be necessary, for example, if the receiving IRB
approval (e.g., changes in template language, changes in risks, etc.).
Depending upon the types
modifications to secure IRB approval for the clinical investigation at that site or sites and may
require reporting to FDA.
As discussed above, all key parties involved in the transfer of oversight (e.g., clinical
investigator, sponsor, and original and receiving IRBs) should discuss their respective
responsibilities before implementing the transfer. In addition, the sponsor should notify pertinent
entities involved in the clinical investigation (e.g., institutional members, Data Safety Monitoring
Board, CRO), as and when appropriate. After IRB transfer of oversight for the clinical
investigation is complete, the sponsor must update the associated IND
with the name
and contact information of the receiving IRB and should include the effective date of transfer.
For studies for which the original IRB acts as a central IRB, those local institutions/IRBs that
IRB) should be notified that responsibility for the study is now being transferred to a new central
IRB (receiving IRB). We recommend that those local institutions/IRBs be given the option to
enter into new written agreements with the receiving IRB or opt out of the central review
arrangement if they do not believe central review by the receiving IRB is appropriate for their
local institution (e.g., are concerned about the ability of the receiving IRB to adequately address
Additionally, when an IRB declines to accept oversight of a clinical investigation, FDA
recommends that the IRB notify the appropriate party(ies) who initiated the transfer process
(refer to page 3 for further information; parties responsible for initiating the transfer may not be
those responsible for securing IRB review) to enable the clinical investigator and/or sponsor to
make alternate arrangements for IRB review.
FDA does not require subjects who are already enrolled (whether or not they are active) to be re-consented for
21 CFR 50.25(a)(7).
21 CFR 56.109(a) and (b).
See, e.g., 21 CFR 56.109(a), 21 CFR 312.31, and 21 CFR 812.35.
21 CFR 312.31(a).
21 CFR 812.35(a)(4).
For more information on the responsibilities of central IRBs and local institutions/IRBs with respect to central
IRB review, see “Using a Centralized IRB Review Process in Multicenter Clinical Trials,” available at:
(8) Updating IRB registration information.
The IRB registration rule at 21 CFR 56.106(e) requires that any IRB that decides to review FDA-
regulated research involving new types of FDA-regulated products, or decides to discontinue
reviewing FDA-regulated research, must revise its registration within 30 days of the change in
product type review or permanent cessation of the IRB’s review of research. A receiving IRB
may therefore need to revise its registration if it previously did not review clinical investigations
of FDA-regulated products or if it will assume the review for a new type of FDA-regulated
product upon the acceptance of clinical investigations from an original IRB (e.g., the receiving
IRB will now review clinical investigations of medical devices, whereas the IRB previously
reviewed only clinical investigations of drugs). Similarly, the original IRB may need to update
its registration information if it will no longer be reviewing a certain type of FDA-regulated
product, will no longer be reviewing FDA-regulated research, or plans to disband. IRBs must
revise their registration within 30 days of any such changes and may do so electronically through
A. Transfer of IRB Oversight from one IRB to Another IRB within the Same
Transfer of oversight may occur from one IRB to another IRB that operates within the
consolidating IRB workload). Transfer of oversight might also occur temporarily when a
natural disaster or other disruptive event briefly suspends the functioning of the original
IRB; in this case, the transfer is only temporary because responsibility for IRB review
will eventually revert back to the original IRB.
When the transfer occurs within the same institution (e.g., for logistical, budgeting or
expeditious than the transfers described above in Section III as not all eight steps may be
applicable. For example, when oversight is transferred to another IRB at the same
institution, the receiving IRB may decide not to conduct an initial or continuing review
prior to the next continuing review date established by the original IRB, as such review
may not be expected to substantively add to human subject protection. The guidance
provided in Section III for institution-to-institution transfers may be useful for within-
When a temporary transfer of IRB oversight occurs (e.g., due to a natural disaster)
Section III should be useful, but again, not all eight steps may apply. The appropriate
steps to effectuate oversight transfer will depend on the specific circumstances, including
IRBs that lack the ability to access the electronic registration system may send revisions, in writing, to the Office
Hampshire Avenue, WO32-5103, Silver Spring, MD 20993-002.
the reasons for the transfer and the risk posed by the study. In the case of a natural
disaster, although the transfer may initially be thought to only be required for a short
period of time, additional time may ultimately be needed before the original IRB is able
to resume its oversight responsibilities. The original and receiving IRBs would need to
ensure that study oversight does not lapse; adverse events are reported to the appropriate
IRB, etc. during this interim period.
B. Transfer of a Clinical Investigation to a New Research Site Requiring IRB
A sponsor may decide to transfer a clinical investigation to a different research site when,
for instance, a clinical investigator relocates to that new site. Because the transfer
involves changes to the research (i.e., conducting the research in a new location, consent
form revisions, possible changes in key staff, etc.), the sponsor or investigator must
submit these changes to the receiving IRB for review and approval, prior to implementing
In many cases, these changes represent a “minor change” to the research,
Such a move to a new research site may or may not entail changing the IRB. If the
reviewing IRB changes as a result, then the considerations described in Section III apply,
except initial or continuing IRB review must be conducted (an IRB may not approve a
change in research without first conducting an initial or continuing review).
FDA notes that, even if the IRB remains the same when a study is transferred to a new
research site, IRB review/approval for the new research site is required because such a
move is considered a change in previously approved research.
For drug or biologics studies, this notification can generally be accomplished through an
IND protocol or information amendment, whereas for device studies it can generally be
accomplished in an IDE annual report
Occasionally, during the course of its initial or continuing review of a transferred clinical
21 CFR 56.108(a)(4). For drug/biologic studies, clinical investigators are responsible for securing IRB approval
21 CFR 56.110(b)(2).
See 21 CFR 312.30, 21 CFR 312.31, 21 CFR 812.35, and 21 CFR 812.150(b)(5). For a discussion of the types of
changes in an IND study that require a new Form 1572, refer to Question 7 of FDA’s Guidance “Frequently Asked
Questions -- Statement of Investigator (Form FDA 1572),”available at
questions that are not resolvable through communications with the sponsor or clinical
investigator. In such situations, either IRB may contact FDA for additional guidance. Affected
sponsors and clinical investigators may also contact FDA in these situations. Please use the
following as an initial point of contact:
Branch, Division of Inspections and Surveillance, Office of Compliance and
Investigations, Office of Compliance
Phone: (301) 796-3150
Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) - Division of Bioresearch
Monitoring, Office of Compliance
If you have specific questions about how to interpret this guidance, please contact FDA by phone
at (301) 796-8340 or by e-mail at