2010 Webinar: Educating for the RCR

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Educating for the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR): Strategies for Research Institutions, was a webinar held on Thursday, April 8, 2010.  This webinar addresses concrete objectives for RCR education under the guidance of two distinguished ethicists from Vanderbilt University and Saint Louis University.

  • Case for case discussion in RCR education – The faculty explores results from a consensus panel funded by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), which identified nine objectives for RCR education. They argue that some of the loftier goals which go beyond mere compliance education are best fostered through case analysis. This approach is also consistent with new requirements and expectations of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF).
  • Sources, subjects, format, and questions: Building cases for RCR education – Attendees can learn several ways of developing appropriate cases for discussion, and ways of structuring case discussion to foster ethical decision-making skills.
  • RCR education for clinical and translational scientists – Traditionally, RCR education has targeted bench scientists. During this webinar, our speakers explore how RCR education can be tailored to meet the unique needs of clinical and translational scientists—a demographic of increasing interest to the NIH.
  • RCR education for international trainees – Cultural factors shape judgments pertaining to research ethics—including mentoring, collaboration, and authorship. During this webinar, the faculty discusses the need to provide RCR education specifically tailored to international scientists, investigators, trainees, and students.


The audience for this webinar included all those responsible for research training grants, especially research educators and program directors. University administrators and staff involved in the activities of institutional review boards (IRBs), institutional animal care and use committees (IACUCs), institutional biosafety committees (IBCs) and other regulatory oversight bodies, as well as compliance officers and compliance office staff, may find this webinar beneficial. Additionally, while this webinar focuses on education in the responsible conduct of biomedical research, the topics are also relevant to broader areas of graduate and post-graduate research education.


Elizabeth Heitman, PhD
Elizabeth Heitman is associate professor in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Heitman's work focuses on the cultural aspects of medicine, biomedical science, and public health. Her primary research addresses the evaluation of education in research ethics and the responsible conduct of research (RCR), and the cultural awareness and professional socialization of students and researchers. Dr. Heitman is the director of a Fogarty International Center research ethics education program for Costa Rican researchers and research ethics committees, and has recently completed a NSF-sponsored study of international science graduate students´ experience of US standards of ethical research. She is a member of the Education Core of the Vanderbilt Institute of Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR) and provides research ethics consultation as a member of VICTR’s Biostatistics/Ethics Core. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, the RCR Education Committee of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, and was recently named to the steering committee of a collaboration between the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) and AAAS to explore best practices in ethics education in science.

James M. DuBois, PhD, DSc
Dr. James DuBois serves as the department chair and Hubert Mäder Professor in the Center for Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University, which offers a PhD in health care ethics with a concentration in research ethics. He is also director of the Center for Clinical Research Ethics at Washington University in St. Louis. He holds doctoral degrees in philosophy and psychology from the University of Vienna. He has published widely on research ethics in journals including Academic Medicine, Ethics and Behavior, IRB, and the Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics. His book Ethics in Mental Health Research was published by Oxford University Press in 2007.