Erica Heath

Author's details

Name: Erica Heath
Date registered: May 6, 2011


In 1970 I got a job as a secretary in the Academic Senate office at the University of California, San Fransisco (UCSF) where I was assigned to handle the Research Committee. The Research Committee had a Sub-Committee on Clinical Investigations originally started in 1966 and consisting of three physicians. I would log in an application (generally 2-3 pages or 4 with a consent form) and walk it up to the chairman. He would read and assign it to an ad-hoc committee. They would submit their comments to me, I would re-type them (on an electric typewriter with carbon paper!) exactly as I saw them and send them to the applicant who would reply and we would repeat the process. That sub-committee wrote what I believe is the first paper on human subject review.* At UCSF I had a wonderful mentor, Dr. Leslie L. Bennett, who was the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs. When I found a conference sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences and suggested that we send someone, he sent me, a secretary! Later, he sent me to a one week retreat sponsored by the Hastings Center to study ethics and human research, followed by many, many conferences and workshops. I stayed at UCSF for 14 years, transitioning the sub-committee into a full-fledged Committee on Human Research, became an Administrative Analyst when there were only 11 in the University of California system and eventually assumed a Director's office overseeing 5 separate committees. I left to start a family, fully intending to leave IRB work and go into hospital administration. Instead, I responded to the request of a faculty member who was working for an MRI company. In 1984 I put together a small IRB to assist in getting his study reviewed, a service not readily available at that time. The service eventually developing into a private company, Independent Review Consulting (IRC), built to provide independent IRB reviews to those who did not have access to local boards. Over the many years I attended many more PRIM&R and industry meetings and got to know my colleagues well. Ellen Gilbreth started the Ethical Review Committee (ERC) in 1988 and later sold her business to Terri Majors. Now, these many years later, ERC and IRC have come together to form Ethical and Independent Review Services, providing expert IRB reviews of all phases and types of human subjects research.

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  1. Where were you 30 years ago when the first AIDS patients were being seen? — September 7, 2011

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Where were you 30 years ago when the first AIDS patients were being seen?

This past June marked the 30th anniversary of the recognition of the first cases of a strange new syndrome that became know as HIV and AIDs.  In the months that have followed much attention has been given to this landmark through symposiums, memorial services, ceremonies, blogs and numerous newspaper articles.  Although considerable scientific advances have …

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