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Byers named university’s IRB executive chair

Clinical focus on lung transplantation; research, on studies of chronic lung disease, transplant complications

July 25, 2023

Derek E. Byers, MD, PhD, has been named executive chair of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Washington University in St. Louis. He will begin in his new role Aug. 1.

The IRB is the multidisciplinary group that reviews and approves protocols for research studies that involve human subjects. The group is responsible for protecting the rights and welfare of anyone participating in a research study conducted by Washington University investigators.

Byers is a professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine and an associate director of the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS). His clinical efforts are focused on lung transplantation, and his research interests on translational studies of chronic lung disease and transplant complications.

He has more than 10 years’ experience in the oversight of clinical research on the university’s IRB, serving as a chair for 10 years and alternate executive chair for four years, as well as six years as a physician reviewer for Advarra, a central, independent institutional review board.

As Washington University’s IRB executive chair, Byers will be the leader responsible for IRB review and approval of human subject research, in accordance with current guidelines, institutional policies, and federal and state regulations governing human subject protections.

Byers is also director of the Pulmonary Morphology Core, which processes thousands of tissue specimens each year; and directs the university’s Advanced Lung Disease Tissue Registry, comprised of hundreds of lung samples from patients with end-stage lung diseases and from donors whose lungs cannot be transplanted. The registry is used by WashU Medicine researchers to learn what causes lung diseases and to develop new diagnostics and treatments for these conditions.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology at the University of Oklahoma, his PhD and medical degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, and completed his training at Washington University School of Medicine.

Byers will succeed Amanda F. Cashen, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Oncology. She has served in the role of IRB executive director since May 2019. Cashen will transition to an expanded role in the Division of Oncology and continue her research and clinical practice, which focuses on the care of patients with hematologic malignancies, including stem cell transplant and cellular immunotherapies. She also will participate in the IRB as a committee chair.