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Requirements and Resources for RCR

First-year RCR training

The formal educational program in the responsible conduct of research that specifically meets the needs of dual-degree trainees and NIH requirements is overseen jointly by the Yale School of Medicine (YSM) Office of Student Research and the MD-PhD Program. Attendance is mandatory for all first-year MD-PhD students and the Registrar of the Program maintains records of student attendance and posts completion of the RCR courses on student transcripts. For students that matriculate in the MD-PhD Program after entering medicine, the course must be taken in the year of matriculation.

Instruction in scientific integrity and ethical principles in the conduct of research is given as part of the first-year medical school curriculum. The lectures focus on the practice of scientific investigation with integrity and the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to scientific research. The presentations include specific case studies drawn from the experience of the faculty. Prior to each session, students are given a copy of the presentation, suggested readings as well as study questions that are openly discussed after each presentation. Students who have an excused absence from an RCR lecture are required to watch the lecture podcast and submit written responses/essays to questions provided by the faculty instructors pertaining to the subject(s) covered.

All of the topics strongly suggested by NIH for RCR instruction are covered in this first year YSM curriculum.

a. Conflict of Interest
b. Policies regarding human subjects, live vertebrate animal subjects, and safe laboratory practices
c. Collaborative research, including collaborations with industry
d. Peer review
e. Data acquisition and laboratory tools; management, sharing and ownership
f. Research misconduct and policies for handling misconduct
g. Responsible authorship and publication
h. The scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research

Faculty and administrative leaders who are experts in the areas above, either because of their research expertise or their role in the University, are asked to not only discuss best practices and potential pitfalls related to the topics, but also to ensure that the students are introduced to the University people and resources available for consultation, advice or further in-depth training in matters related to the responsible conduct of research. MSTP Associate Directors and participating faculty teach many of the topics in this course.

RCR Refresher Course

All fifth-year MD-PhD students must complete the Yale Biological and Biomedical Sciences RCR refresher course (B&BS 503) led by the Director of BBS. This course consists of two mandatory 45-minute BBS sessions, as well as additional refresher RCR workshops offered by the PhD program with which the student is affiliated. There is also a MD-PhD specific refresher RCR workshop led by the Director of the MD-PhD program. Students are asked to submit RCR case scenario(s) that are relevant to their physician-scientist training for this last workshop. Attendance at all sessions is mandatory.

Informal instruction in the responsible conduct of research and reinforcement in the laboratory environment

The most important way in which students are trained in the responsible conduct of research is in their day-to-day experiences in the laboratory. We emphasize the critical need for faculty mentors to consistently review and enforce with their students core principles of rigorous experimental design and data analysis, to ensure that students are trained and monitored in data acquisition, analysis, sharing and management and to work closely with students on abstract and publication preparations.

Upon selection and affiliation of an MD-PhD student at the end of their second year with the laboratory for their thesis research, the Principal Investigator is sent a letter that details important academic obligations (as well as financial responsibilities) as the thesis mentor. These include the expectation that mentors will play a central role in helping students to practice and apply RCR principles in their day-to-day research. We also use every opportunity (such as monthly student meetings, program retreats and seminars) to remind students of the programmatic and University resources that are available to them to seek training and assistance for the responsible conduct of research, and to broach the topics formally and informally throughout the year as we engage in advising, teaching and monitoring the students’ progress.