Public Release: 

Protecting human subjects focus of national FDA conference at UH

Streamlining, increasing medical device approvals goal of two-day event

University of Houston

HOUSTON, March 17, 2005 - New medical devices have to be tested on human subjects, but protecting the rights of those subjects can present considerable challenges for researchers. A national conference devoted to exploring the FDA critical pathway for approval of new medical products while protecting human subjects, co-sponsored by the Food and Drug Administration and the University of Houston, will be held at UH April 21-22.

One of only three annual conferences sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP), UH is hosting "The Critical Path to New Medical Products: The Challenges in Protecting Human Subjects." The two days of presentations, panels and breakout sessions will be held at the Hilton UH Hotel and Conference Center.

"While the increased potential is tremendous for new medicines, biologicals and genomic-based treatments and devices that prevent and cure diseases, fewer new medical devices are reaching the marketplace," said Isaac D. Montoya, clinical professor in the UH College of Pharmacy. "The shortest distance between two points is a straight line; however, the line that leads to developing new medical devices is rarely short or straight. This conference will explore options and approaches for meeting this challenge while protecting human subjects."

The "critical path" of medical product development includes the process and crucial steps that determine whether and how quickly a medical discovery becomes a reliable device for patient use. With a number of challenges and issues concerning the protection of human subjects, this "critical path" will be thoroughly examined. Participants will be given practical information about conducting biomedical research, as well as being provided an update on the regulations and presented with an overview of the challenges, issues and potential solutions facing government and the private sector in conducting federally funded research involving human subjects.

The conference is designed to benefit principal investigators, research staff and coordinators, those involved in institutional review boards (IRBs), institutional officials, pharmaceutical research personnel and medical personnel with an interest in human subjects protection, as well as graduate and undergraduate students. In completing the two-day program, participants can expect to demonstrate a better overall understanding of the Code of Federal Regulations from the Office for Protection from Research Risks that govern research funded by Title 45 Part 46 on public welfare and the protection of human subjects.

Additional benefits include the ability to apply ethical principles and regulations to research involving human subjects, identify opportunities and solutions to compliance issues in human research studies conducted by academia and the private sector, apply examples and definitions provided to complex and difficult research issues, and demonstrate knowledge of government initiatives such as the "critical path" of medical product development and marketing. Poster sessions will begin at 8 a.m. each day that represent student work in the area.

Montoya, the conference moderator and coordinator, will introduce Jay Gogue, chancellor of the UH System and president of UH, who will officially open the conference at 9 a.m., April 21. To kick off day one, OHRP Director Bernard A. Schwetz, D.V.M, will deliver the first keynote address - "Aspects of the Human Subjects Enterprise." Following, will be David A. Lepay, M.D., senior adviser for clinical science at the FDA, who will provide insight to FDA regulations involving the protection of human subjects in clinical trials and the organization's oversight role.

Offering a number of panel discussions that provide a wide range of perspectives from the federal government, private industry and academia, many notable figures will be in attendance, as well as giving presentations on topics such as the use of unapproved devices, bioterrorism and space research. Included in this prestigious list is Charles F. Sawin, the chief NASA scientist serving as chair of the Committee for Protection of Human Subjects and chair of the Human Research Multilateral Review Board at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC). As a top figure in the IRBs of JSC and the International Space Station, Sawin will discuss issues relating to conducting research in space that involves human subjects. In addition, CEO's from MicroMed Technology, Pharma Frontiers and BioHouston also will be on hand to discuss issues experienced facing the private sector.

Additional topics will cover FDA monitoring and sanctions, new issues that are arising with the developing bionanotechnology field and bioterrorism issues faced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

"While UH is the host, the conference is very much a community effort," Montoya said. "Among an impressive array of speakers will be top Texas Medical Center representatives and faculty from The University of Texas Health Science Center, Baylor College of Medicine and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. We've also had pre-med students from the local chapter of the American Medical Student Association sign on as volunteers. I'm really pleased with the level of involvement and the unity exhibited by so many in this important event."

For conference information, including the agenda, registration materials and hotel information, visit or call 713-795-8387.


About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

About the UH College of Pharmacy
For more than 50 years, the University of Houston College of Pharmacy has shaped aspiring pharmacists, scientists and teachers. The college offers a Pharm. D. degree, a master's in pharmacy administration, a Ph.D. in pharmaceutics or pharmacology and combined Pharm.D./Ph.D. degrees. Accredited by the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education, it is one of nearly 90 pharmacy colleges in the United States, with more than 45 basic science and clinical faculty, nearly 610 adjunct faculty and preceptors and 900 current pre-pharmacy and professional students. The college has facilities both on the UH campus and in the Texas Medical Center. At TMC, students have the opportunity to train with physicians, medical students and members of UH clinical faculty. In addition to faculty and staff offices, TMC also houses research laboratories, classrooms and the Contemporary Pharmacy Practice Laboratory.

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