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Scientific quality and feasibility are part of ethics review by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). Scientific Review Committees (SRCs) were proposed to facilitate this assessment by the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) SRC Consensus Group. This study assessed SRC feasibility and impact at CTSA-affiliated academic health centers (AHCs).
SRC implementation at 10 AHCs was assessed pre/post-intervention using quantitative and qualitative methods. Pre-intervention, four AHCs had no SRC, and six had at least one SRC needing modifications to better align with Consensus Group recommendations.
Facilitators of successful SRC implementation included broad-based communication, an external motivator, senior-level support, and committed SRC reviewers. Barriers included limited resources and staffing, variable local mandates, limited SRC authority, lack of anticipated benefit, and operational challenges. Research protocol quality did not differ significantly between study periods, but respondents suggested positive effects. During intervention, median total review duration did not lengthen for the 40% of protocols approved within 3 weeks. For the 60% under review after 3 weeks, review was lengthened primarily due to longer IRB review for SRC-reviewed protocols. Site interviews recommended designing locally effective SRC processes, building buy-in by communication or by mandate, allowing time for planning and sharing best practices, and connecting SRC and IRB procedures.
The CTSA SRC Consensus Group recommendations appear feasible. Although not conclusive in this relatively short initial implementation, sites perceived positive impact by SRCs on study quality. Optimal benefit will require local or federal mandate for implementation, adapting processes to local contexts, and employing SRC stipulations.
Iron deficiency is common in pregnant and lactating women and is associated with reduced cognitive development of the offspring. Since iron affects lipid metabolism, the availability of fatty acids, particularly the polyunsaturated fatty acids required for early neural development, was investigated in the offspring of female rats fed iron-deficient diets during gestation and lactation. Subsequent to the dams giving birth, one group of iron-deficient dams was recuperated by feeding an iron-replete diet. Dams and neonates were killed on postnatal days 1, 3 and 10, and the fatty acid composition of brain and stomach contents was assessed by gas chromatography. Changes in the fatty acid profile on day 3 became more pronounced on day 10 with a decrease in the proportion of saturated fatty acids and a compensatory increase in monounsaturated fatty acids. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in the n-6 family were reduced, but there was no change in the n-3 family. The fatty acid profiles of neonatal brain and stomach contents were similar, suggesting that the change in milk composition may be related to the changes in the neonatal brain. When the dams were fed an iron-sufficient diet at birth, the effects of iron deficiency on the fatty acid composition of lipids in both dam’s milk and neonates’ brains were reduced. This study showed an interaction between maternal iron status and fatty acid composition of the offspring’s brain and suggests that these effects can be reduced by iron repletion of the dam’s diet at birth.