Brigette Vaughan named chair of UNMC IRB-02

Department of Psychiatry Clinical Research Manager Brigette Vaughan, MSN, APRN-BC, NP, has been named Chair of the UNMC IRB-02.

UNMC’s IRB is composed of members from various scientific disciplines and the community who serve to protect the rights and welfare of human subjects in research. IRB-02 is one of two standing adult boards and meets monthly. The board is charged with the important task of assuring that the rights and welfare of human subjects are fully protected in research projects at UNMC/UNO/Nebraska Medicine and Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.

Vaughan is also a member of IRB-05, which is a single-site IRB. Her term on the board runs until January 2024.

“Serving on the IRB has given me a new perspective on my work as a research coordinator and has made me better at my job,” Vaughan said. “The IRB has also been an opportunity to learn about all research going on at UNMC and UNO. The opportunity to review trials for cutting-edge treatments in cancer and infectious disease, cardiovascular care, surgery, transplant, diabetes, neurological disorders, biomechanics, and social and behavioral health that are going on right under our noses is very exciting. It requires me to expand my knowledge beyond psychiatry, but also to use my psychiatry and nursing skills to review other research.”

As chair, Vaughan leads the meeting, manages discussions between reviewers and members, and identifies issues key to the criteria for the approval of human subjects research. She will also review special items such as adverse events, unanticipated problems, reports of noncompliance, protocol deviations, and violations, as well as review protocols that are exempt from full-board review and are part of sub-committee discussions for trials requiring more detailed review with the investigator. 

“This is truly a proud recognition of Brigette’s leadership with the IRB,” said Department of Psychiatry Chair Howard Liu, MD, MBA.  

The IRB chairs are part of the IRB’s executive team, which reviews policies and procedures. The chair are accessible to investigators and study staff to answer questions and assist with submissions to facilitate effective reviews.

Vaughan has served on the IRB since joining as an alternate member for Chris Kratochvil, MD, and Mark Fleisher, MD. In 2010, she became a full member, and in 2017, she was asked to be a Vice-Chair of IRB-02.

“Dr. Kratochvil used to have me look at applications and adverse event reports. I’m not sure if it was to gauge my interest, to teach me, or to prepare me to someday advance to this role,” Vaughan said. “Walking into a room of oncologists and surgeons and internationally known researchers, and voicing an opinion is not easy to do. I was like, ‘I’m just a nurse.’ During one of my first meetings, Joe Brown PhD (Professor at UNO and Chair of IRB-01) referred to me as ‘Dr. Vaughan’ when asking for my review. When I corrected him, he said, ‘oh, thank goodness, please continue.’ Dr. Bruce Gordon has also given me feedback on reviews and encouraged me to learn and do more. The administrative staff is amazing and makes the board successful.”

As chair, Vaughan said she wants to continue to get better at preparing and managing reviews that allow for safe, ethical, and important studies to continue on our campus.

“I hope to provide some education regarding mental health considerations in the trials we review and develop some policies specific to mental health research activities,” she said. “I hope that our investigators in the Department of Psychiatry benefit from having me represent us in that leadership role.”

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