This paper provides an overview of the history, composition, organization, responsibilities, and regulatory requirements of Data Safety Monitoring Boards (DSMB), with particular reference to the context of clinical trials in spinal cord injury. It is intended to help potential members of such boards and those undertaking the design of new clinical trials to understand the important role of the DSMB in safeguarding the integrity of complex trials, promoting safety, and countering potential bias. An independent DSMB helps to protect research subjects by providing study oversight and serves as an additional step to assure that clinical trials are performed to existing and appropriate standards. The DSMB must meet on a regular schedule, diligently evaluate all the information it receives, and report in a timely and decisive manner. Members must be free of significant conflicts of interest throughout the study and be adequately trained and experienced to serve their roles within the group. DSMB service can be a valuable learning experience and a gratifying opportunity to participate in advancing medicine and helping to maintain and improve the standards of research.

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