Under HHS Regulations (46.102) research is defined as a “systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.” The general rule is that if there is any element of research in an activity, that activity should undergo review for the protection of human subjects. For example, some “demonstration” and “service” programs may include research activities.
Under FDA Regulations (21 CFR 56.102) the term “clinical investigation” is synonymous with “research” and is defined as “any experiment that involves a test article and one or more human subjects, and that either must meet the requirements for prior submission to the FDA under section 505(i) or 520(g) of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, or need not meet the requirements for prior submission to the FDA under these sections of the act, but the results of which are intended to be later submitted to, or held for inspection by, the FDA as part of an application for a research or marketing permit. Clinical investigations regulated by the FDA under Sections 505(i) and 520(g) of the Act, include investigations of food, dietary supplements that bear a nutrient content claim or a health claim, infant formulas, food and color additives, drugs for human use, medical devices for human use, biological products for human use, and electronic products. The term “clinical investigation” does not include experiments that must meet the provisions of part 58, regarding nonclinical laboratory studies. The terms research, clinical research, clinical study, study, and clinical investigation are deemed to be synonymous for purposes of this part. Research is subject to 21 CFR 50 and 56 when it involves the use of any drug other than the use of an approved drug in the course of medical practice. Research is subject to 21 CFR 50 and 56 when it involves the use of any medical device other than the use of an approved medical device in the course of medical practice.