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This is a case study based on the author’s experience while serving as an ethics committee (IRB) chair in New York City. It addresses the issues of power and coercion as they apply to the human research participants protection process. It primarily focuses on the power imbalance that can exist between research participants and their IRB advocates on the one hand and the research institutions, funding agencies, and investigators with their unlimited resources on the other. IRB Chairs and IRB leaders must be fire-walled from conflicts of interest arising not just from financial factors but from factors related to power, hierarchy, structure, and control. Senior staff, IRB members, administrators and ethicists best advocate for human volunteers in research through personal identification and solidarity.