Background/aims: Timely review of research protocols by institutional review boards leads to more rapid initiation of clinical trials, which is critical to expeditious translation from bench to bedside. This observational study examined the impact of a single institutional review board on time and efforts required to initiate clinical trials by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Cooperative Reproductive Medicine Network. Methods: Collection of data from the same six main clinical sites for three current clinical trials and two past clinical trials, including time from institutional review board submission to approval, pages submitted, consent form length, number of required attachments, other regulatory requirements, order of review at central or local sites, and language in documents at individual participating sites. Results from two past clinical trials were also included. Results: While time required for actual institutional review board submission’s review and initial approval was reduced with use of a single institutional review board for multicenter trials (from a mean of 66.7–24.0 days), total time was increased (to a mean of 111.2 or 123.3 days). In addition to single institutional review board approval, all institutions required local approval of some components (commonly consent language and use of local language), which varied considerably. The single institutional review board relied on local institutions for adding or removing personnel, conflict of interest review, and auditing of activities. Conclusion: A single institutional review board reduced time for initial review and approval of protocols and informed consents, although time for the entire process was increased, as individual institutions retained oversight of components of required regulatory review. In order to best achieve the National Institute of Health’s goals for improved efficiency in initiation and conduct of multisite clinical research, greater coordination with local institutional review boards is key to streamlining and accelerating initiation of multisite clinical research.
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