From a 2007 issue of The Journal of the National Cancer Institute:
On Jan. 1 (2007) the University of Minnesota launched a major overhaul of its institutional review boards (IRBs) with the goal of increasing efficiency, quality, and—most importantly for many IRB critics—the speed with which it reviews new clinical trial protocols.
The reforms represent one approach to fixing the problems that have been plaguing IRBs everywhere for more than a decade. Charged with protecting human research subjects, IRBs have been facing increasing workloads, difficulty attracting qualified members, and lack of expertise in specific areas of medicine.
Some institutions have started using external IRBs. Not the University of Minnesota, explained Richard Bianco, the university's associate vice president for research:
“I don’t believe our system of local reviews is seriously flawed,” Bianco said, speaking at a national conference on IRBs convened by OHRP and other national groups last November. “Our patients and subjects can best be served by continuing to strengthen our local IRBs.”