Guidance for Use of a Single IRB

This page is meant to provide guidance on how to conduct the same protocol at multiple institutions under a single IRB. It should help study teams prepare a single IRB submission.

DF/HCC Consortium Trials (DFCI IRB)

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) IRB is the designated single IRB for Oncology trials for Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) member institutions which include:

  • Beth-Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC)
  • Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH)
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH)
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI)
  • Massachusetts General Hospital

In certain circumstances the DFCI IRB may act as the IRB of record for DF/HCC lead, Multi-Center studies. Please contact OHRS to determine if the DFCI IRB is able to serve as the IRB of record for these studies at

National Cancer Institute Central IRB (NCI CIRB)

The National Cancer Institute Central IRB (NCI CIRB) serves as the IRB of record for NCI funded network (cooperative group) trials.

The DF/HCC has a master reliance agreement with the NCI CIRB. If you are going to use the NCI CIRB, you may skip to Step 3, "Before you initiate a protocol with a Single IRB."

You can also view a comprehensive training on using the NCI CIRB which includes the submission process and other requirements for study teams.

Other External IRBs including Academic Medical Center and Independent IRBs

On a case by case basis, the DFCI IRB may agree to allow investigators reliance on an external IRB to serve as the IRB of record for research conducted by a DF/HCC site.

In order to choose a different type of External Single IRB, please follow the steps provided starting with Reliance agreement.  Whenever possible, the SMART IRB reliance platform should be used to enter into these reliance agreements.

Reliance Agreements

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) Reliance Agreement, also known as an IRB Authorization Agreement, is a written agreement between organizations collaborating in non-exempt human subjects’ research outlining each organization’s responsibilities in the oversight of research.  An IRB reliance agreement identifies the IRB of record for overseeing the project. A Reliance Agreement may be an individual agreement for one trial or be a master agreement that would cover many studies.  

Please contact the Office for Human Research Studies Director for more information about setting up a new Reliance Agreement. 


Request for Single IRB Reliance Agreement Consultation

Requesting to Rely on a Single IRB

To request to rely on a Single IRB the following form will need to be submitted through OHRS Submit. Please note, you can skip this step if you are relying on the NCI Central IRB.

For reliance on an external academic medical center IRBs, DF/HCC investigators are required to use the SMART IRB common reliance agreement platform.

SMART IRB - Participating Institutions

Before you initiate a protocol with a Single IRB - Action Items

Please contact the following departments prior to submitting the study to the external sIRB and to OHRS.

Submitting your New Project to OHRS

Please see the following guidance document that describes the process.

When you are ready, please submit a new protocol Initial Submission Packet through iRIS.