MMRF / IRB Timeline

1887 City Hospital

The hospital known today as Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) began in 1887 as City Hospital.

1905 Minneapolis General Hospital

City Hospital became Minneapolis General Hospital.

1945 - 46 The Nuremberg Prosecution / Trials

People responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the World War II were brought to trial in Nuremberg, Germany. These crimes included performing medical experiments without the subjects’ consent and committing inhumane acts during the course of the experiments. A set of research ethics principles called the Nuremberg Code was established because of these trials.

1952 Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation is Established

In August 1952, the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation was incorporated with the mission of improving patient care and the health of our community through research and education. The MMRF was located on the Minneapolis General Hospital campus.

1963 Hennepin County General Hospital

Hennepin County assumed ownership of Minneapolis General Hospital and it was renamed Hennepin County General Hospital (HCGH).

1964 Declaration of Helsinki

The Declaration of Helsinki, developed by the World Medical Association (WMA), is widely regarded as the keystone document on human research ethics. First adopted in 1964, the document has since gone through several revisions.

1966 Henry Beecher Lectures and New England Journal of Medicine Publication

Dr. Henry K. Beecher’s article “Ethics and Clinical Research” about ethical lapses in research appeared in the “New England Journal of Medicine,” laying the foundation for implementation of federal rules on experimentation involving human subjects and informed consent.

1966 US Surgeon General's Policy on Clinical Research and Investigation Involving Human Beings

The US Surgeon General implemented a new public health grant policy, which stated that all human subject research requires prior review by an independent committee. The policy created the basis for Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). The Public Health Service communicated the change to heads of institutions conducting research with Public Health service grants in a letter dated Feb. 8, 1966.

1966 Research Advisory Committee (IRB) Formed

In May 1966, an independent committee to review human subject research was created at the MMRF and HCGH. The committee, called the Research Advisory Committee, was MMRF and HCGH’s Institutional Review Board. In 1987, the committee was renamed the Human Subjects Research Committee (HSRC). Over the course of the 50 years, there have been six Committee Chairs: Milton Ettinger, MD (1966 to 1972); Claude Hitchcock, MD (1972 to 1984); LoAnn Peterson, MD (1984 to 1987); John Haglin, MD (1987 to 1993); Dean Tsukayama, MD (1994 to 1997); and Frederick Langendorf, MD (1998 to present).

1966 Research Advisory Committee's First Meetings

In a letter dated July 22, 1966, the Research Advisory Committee, Hennepin County General Hospital, and Minneapolis Research Foundation, Inc. informed the US Public Health Service that the institutional review board was formed in May 1966 “to comply with the requirements of the Surgeon General regarding the assurance of rights and welfare of patients involved in human research, to consider the appropriateness of methods used to secure informed consent, and to evaluate the risks of the methods used versus potential medical benefits.” The letter also described the statements of policy proclaimed by committee members during the first two meetings and outlined a list of activities of the Research Advisory Committee.

1972 Disclosure and Termination of Tuskegee Syphillis Experiment

The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was a nontherapeutic experiment conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the US Public Health Service working with the Tuskegee Institute. It studied the effects of untreated syphilis on African-American men in rural Alabama. Most of the men were poor and illiterate. They were offered free health care in exchange for their participation. Scientific protocol applied to human subjects research to ensure the safety and well-being of the participants was absent or deeply flawed in the study. The public was outraged when the Associated Press broke the story about the experiment in 1972. As a result, the government changed its research practices to prevent the actions that took place in Tuskegee from happening again.

1974 National Research Act

Partly in response to the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, the National Research Act established the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. The Commission was charged with identifying the basic ethical principles of research conduct and developing guidelines to ensure research is conducted in accordance with those principles. “The Belmont Report” summarized the Commission’s work.

1976 Hennepin General Hospital Becomes Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC)

In 1976, Hennepin completed a new hospital facility. The hospital also started sharing services with its next-door neighbor, the Metropolitan Medical Center. Hennepin County General Hospital’s name was changed to Hennepin County Medical Center.

1978 Belmont Report

“The Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research” set the basic ethical principles to guide all research involving human subjects. The three principles—respect for persons, beneficence, and justice—serve as the foundation for ethical conduct of human subjects research. The “Belmont Report” is an essential guide for IRBs.

1987 Research Coordinator Added to the HSRC

In 1987, a Research Coordinator was added to the structure of the IRB: Robin Hoppenrath (1987); Lori Fake (1987 to 1994); Sharyn Aasen (1994 to 2013); and Cindy Hanson (2013 to present.)

1994 Vice Chair Added to the HSRC

In 1994, a Vice Chair was added to the structure of the IRB: Karen Heim-Duthoy, PharmD (1994 to present).

2007 HCMC's Operational Oversight Transitioned from Hennepin County to Hennepin Healthcare System

On January 1, 2007, HCMC’s operational oversight transitioned from Hennepin County to a separate Public Benefit Corporation, Hennepin Healthcare System (HHS) doing business as HCMC.

2012 Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation Became a Subsidiary of HHS

Effective January 1, 2012, MMRF became a non-profit subsidiary of HHS. The establishment of this new subsidiary relationship enabled physicians to seamlessly continue their research and training programs under a newly organized governance structure. MMRF is accountable to HHS, but functions with relative administrative and financial autonomy.

2016 The IRB Turns 50!

In 2016, the HSRC commemorated the 50th anniversary of the formation of an IRB at MMRF and HCMC. The milestone was recognized at a committee meeting on July 25, 2016, where HSRC Chair Frederick Langendorf, MD, reviewed the history of the oversight of human subjects in research, and looked back on the IRB’s first 50 years at MMRF and HCMC.

2016 Committee Member Dr. Robert Sherman, is Recognized for his Years of Service (1968 to present)

Robert Sherman, PhD, was honored for 48-year of service on the IRB at MMRF and HCMC. He was recognized at the HSRC meeting on July 25, 2016.