Linda Mayo, director of The University of New Mexico's Office of the Institutional Review Board (OIRB), was honored recently for her service with the Applied Research Ethics National Association (ARENA) Legacy Award from Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research, Inc. (PRIM&R). The ARENA Legacy Award is given to those members who contribute to a more ethical research landscape while working tirelessly in leadership, mentorship, and education.

Research involving human subjects requires unique ethical and moral oversight that other kinds of research may not because of the need to protect the integrity, safety, and well-being of the subjects, the researcher, and the research itself. The UNM OIRB promotes the safety and protection of those involved in human research by providing support, guidance, and education to research faculty and students to facilitate sound and ethical research.

Linda Mayo
Linda Mayo

Mayo has worked in human research protections for 17 years, and she began her Institutional Review Board career at the UNM Health Sciences Center in 2003. That same year she joined PRIM&R as a member.

“I have been so impressed with the professional education and networking opportunities [PRIM&R] has provided me,” she said.

Through her years with the organization, Mayo has served on conference planning committees for PRIM&R and the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs, and she has presented at national and international conferences. In 2016, she co-founded the national SBER (Social, Behavioral, and Educational Research) Network, hosted by PRIM&R. The SBER Network is a collaborative of IRB professionals who focus on the unique issues and challenges of ethical oversight of social, behavioral, and educational research, and it has become an excellent resource for PRIM&R members in the years since its founding.

In 2017, Mayo and her team worked tirelessly to successfully obtain national accreditation of the human research protections program for UNM main and branch campuses. In addition, Mayo conducted NIH-funded research at the Mind Research Network and has co-authored several publications focused on the ethical implications of using scientific jargon when communicating incidental findings of neuroimaging or radiology scans (such as MRIs) to participants in healthcare research. This prestigious award is a reflection of Mayo’s leadership and dedication to her field.

“This is a well-deserved honor for Linda; she is a consummate professional in the IRB world and I am gratified that the national IRB community recognizes her excellence,” said Gabriel Lopez, UNM Vice President for Research. “Thanks to her leadership, the UNM OIRB does a great job supporting our researchers, and is a critically important resource for our University.” 

PRIM&R’s ARENA Legacy Award was developed to “honor not only the chosen individual, but also to honor the living legacy created by ARENA. One of ARENA's many important contributions was to encourage the advancement of those individuals working in the field, in order to promote professional excellence and ultimately contribute to a more ethical research enterprise.”

Mayo says that while this award was a surprise, she is thrilled to be honored. “Receiving the 2020 ARENA Legacy Award is completely unexpected and quite emotional for me—to be acknowledged for playing an important role in mentoring young IRB professionals and contributing to the growth of my profession is very satisfying and rewarding.”