The Institutional Review Board (IRB) works to ensure ethical and meaningful research on both a national and international level. Because my project involves interacting with respondents in another country, it will likely be expedited through the IRB review process meaning that it is minimal risk but still involves experimental design. My team will have to submit, along with a detailed course of implementation, copies of our survey we plan to use in Sierra Leone. If we decide it is necessary to write the survey in one of the Sierra Leonean languages, Krio or Mende, we will need to submit all translated versions to the IRB. My team’s top priority is to write the survey as soon as possible in order to be able to submit an application for IRB approval. In addition to the survey, we will also need to draft an International Research Appendix which will detail the cultural context of the country we are travelling to as well as describe our planned method for gaining consent from respondents of our survey. Finally, we will need a Translation Documentation Form if our survey is in one of the Sierra Leonean languages. Our main goal at the moment as a team is to complete and fine tune the survey so we can pursue the necessary application process for gaining approval to work internationally.
For my project our main inputs are time, expertise, partners, resources, space, money, and funding. Our participants are our faculty advisors, my teammates, the NIH, Lehigh, and the GSIF. We are trying to serve a larger global need for viral prevention and prediction in order to better understand the spreading of infections and be better prepared for future outbreaks. Professor Mehta is another participant who contributes his knowledge and expertise to our project.Together, we are working to develop a survey to assess potential risk factors and indications of Ebola transmission from bats to humans. We will then use these targeted risk factors in our statistical model combined with infected bat population models developed by our faculty advisors. We are currently collecting background research to apply in our survey design as well as working on fine tuning a statistical model for the data we collect. We hope our efforts improve prediction of future outbreaks and can even serve as a template to model the spread of other viruses as well. Our hope is to make a lasting impact and contribution to the scientific community.