If you’ve been involved with cancer clinical trials, you may have heard the term “IRB.” IRBs might be associated with a particular institution (an Institutional Review Board assoicated with research hospital, for instance), or might be an commercial entity (Independent Review Board). IRBs might also be known as Ethics Boards or something similar. Every country has their own version of IRBs to ensure the human subjects are treated ethically and adequately protected in biomedical research studies.
IRBs are the folks that ensure people who enroll in medical research studies have adequate protections (like informed consent), and that the research studies they review comply with regulations designed to protect human research subjects. An IRB may include patients or loved ones who are familiar with clinical trials and other research studies that involve human subjects, but not many do at present.
Here’s a nice overview about IRBs from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one of the federal agencies that regulates IRBs in the USA.