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Clinical Research Ethics Consultation Service (CRECS)

We provide free consultation on ethical issues related to research design, tissue banking, genetic research results, informed consent, and working with vulnerable patient populations. In particular, we assist clinical investigators in identifying and addressing the ethical challenges that frequently arise when designing or conducting research with human subjects. These include ethical challenges in sampling design; randomized and placebo-controlled studies; participant recruitment and informed consent; return of individual-level research results; community engagement processes; and more.

Schedule a free consultation:

This service is free to all UI investigators thanks to support provided by the ICTS.

Consultations are available weekdays during normal business hours, by appointment only. Please call or email one of the consultants listed at the right to schedule an appointment.


Researchers may request their preferred level of confidentiality. CRECS functions independently of the IRB.

Who provides the service:

CRECS is located within the Program in Bioethics and Humanities (PBH). The consultants are full-time UI faculty from the Carver College of Medicine who have expertise in research ethics. They teach research ethics, have served as members of institutional review boards, and have published widely on medical ethics. The faculty consultants are also experienced extramurally funded researchers themselves, thus bringing to the consultation table an intuitive grasp of the challenges many investigators face. In some cases, consultants may need to refer investigators to other content experts at the UI.

The service does not replace any portion of the IRB review process at the UI, and CRECS functions independently of the IRB.

For additional information, please contact Christian Simon, PhD.

What the service does NOT do:

  • Provide consultations regarding matters of law, regulation, or institutional policy. On these matters, researchers will be referred to existing resources elsewhere at the institution, such as the Vice President for Research, the Division of Sponsored Programs, and the Office of the General Counsel.
  • Consultations involving specific patients or specific research subjects.
  • Consultations related to issues of animal use and care.

Example of a successful CRECS ethics consultation:

  • Patient advocate lodges concern about a UI research consortium proposal not to re-consent participants for spin-off study of a large prior project that had previously collected clinical data and tissue samples.
  • Consortium leadership contacts CRECS for advice with the practical concern of the feasibility and cost of reconsenting thousands of original tissue donors.
  • Response: Directors of CRECS meet, discuss case, consult with key biorepository experts, draw-up detailed review of the ethical issues involved and make recommendations.
  • Turnaround time for consultation: 1 day.
  • Client assessment: “The consultation was very helpful. We discussed the issue during a video conference of the research group that included our advocates and have reached a consensus on how to handle the issue…”