A committee that reviews and approves the design of studies involving human participants.

Before clinical trials are started, research plans must be reviewed and approved by a competent and appropriately constituted institutional review board (IRB) or independent ethics committee (IEC), also known as a research ethics committee (REC). The role of IRBs is to protect the rights, interests and welfare of participants in clinical studies. IRBs typically also monitor studies and review projects to ensure that procedures are followed.

IRB review is generally mandatory for clinical studies; some countries have national ethics committees that must also review and approve applications to carry out clinical research.