Diversity in Research Campaign

Bringing the IRB into the Community

The goal of Augusta University’s diversity in research campaign seeks to engage the community in meaningful conversations regarding human subject research at Augusta University and establish a collaborative relationship with the citizens we serve.

Research study populations should mirror the characteristics of our surrounding community. However, due to persistent health disparities, which often stem from a lack of trust within underrepresented and underserved communities, inclusion within study populations is not always reflective of the community. Research studies that are not appropriately inclusive undermine the confidence of underrepresented and underserved communities.

To coincide with ensuring the adequate and fair representation of underrepresented groups in research, our IRB office wished to take steps to begin a process that was long overdue. Within our organization, we first formed a community engagement steering community (CESC) that would help steer our DEI and engagement efforts in the community. The CESC included members of the community that ranged from IRB community members, social workers, nurses, lawyers, students, and members of the golden harvest food bank. We wanted a wide range of individuals who actively represented the community and knew where we needed to focus our efforts. 

We also begin community outreach efforts. The efforts included community educational forums to reach underrepresented populations. In these forums, we focused on listening to the communities and taking back suggestions on how to improve our participant outreach and representation. We also wanted to provide them with needed education and tools. Outreach efforts also included research symposiums focused on Health literacy and representation of our IRB office at community health fairs to again engage with and learn from underrepresented communities.

We also will increase our outreach efforts. We will perform internal reviews of policies and IRB composition to ensure diversity and review of implicant barriers to recruitment. We will continue to partner with Community Based Researchers to collaborate and serve as a liaison between investigators and the community.

Meet the Leaders

photo of Tiffany Coleman, MS, MPH, CIP

Tiffany Coleman, MS, MPH, CIP

  • Director, Human Research Protection Program

Ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion has long been a passion of mine. With my medical background in Sleep Medicine, I often saw racial disparities in health outcomes when comparing groups. Within my current field of research, disparities are still evident with respect to diversity of the research population. My goal with this initiative is to build a collaborative partnership with the citizens we serve and begin the conversations that will hopefully lead to substantial action to decrease these inequalities.

photo of Melissa Toomer, CIC

Melissa Toomer, CIC

  • IRB Specialist

As a Latina working in the IRB Office, I have come across several studies that lack representation from the Latino community. My hope is to bridge the gap between the community and researchers to make research accessible for those who may need it the most.

Member Diversity

The basic principles of the Belmont Report charge IRBs with ensuring the rights and well-being of the human participants are protected. This includes ensuring the adequate and fair representation of underrepresented groups in research to ensure benefits and results are spread equally throughout the population. To ensure adequate and fair representation of underrepresented groups, we also need to ensure the diversity with composition of our IRB. We have performed the first phases of diversity assessments of our IRB. View the initial results.

Assessments of IRB Membership diversity will be assessed annually by our team.


Research Symposium / Health Literacy Training

Researcher Consultation / Resources

Augusta University’s diversity in research campaign also aims to collaborate with research investigators to serve as a liaison between investigators and the community by:

    • Soliciting feedback from investigators related to their challenges to ensuring the equitable recruitment and/or selection of diverse participants
    • Identifying strategies to assist investigators with identifying and addressing implicit bias in research design and recruitment
    • Providing AU researchers recommendations to increase the diversity of research participants
    • Providing feedback to research investigators to improve the research process based on the research participants' experience


Pre-Study, On-Study and Post Study Considerations: Procedural and Logistical Checklist

Resources for Participants


Current Research Studies

Measuring Participant Understanding of the Informed Consent Document and Consent Process

The purpose of this study is to assess participants' understanding of research studies in which they have agreed to participate. This study will measure participant understanding and comprehension of the important elements and general concepts of a research study and evaluate the informed consent process from the participant's point of view. In addition, knowledge retention will be evaluated in the short and long term. The study will also investigate whether demographic and/or social elements affect the level of participant understanding of the informed consent.




Community Research Day

  • December 9th, 10-12pm
  • Bethel Community Church Family Life Center

2610 Milledgeville Rd,

Augusta GA 30904 


Aiken County Roundtable

  • TBA

Burke County Roundtable

  • TBA