MED 255 is a necessary, but not always sufficient, component of training in responsible conduct of research. Please be sure to contact your funder to inquire about additional requirements beyond MED 255.
In general, however, the NIH requires several components of training in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) including:
- the required MED 255 or 255 C course;
- refresher RCR instruction at each stage of training (e.g., graduate, postdoc, etc);
- continuing informal or formal training in research ethics throughout the year; and
- the involvement of your departmental research faculty in supplemental and continuing instruction in research ethics.
1) Instruction Format
The NIH requirements highly encourage multiple forms of RCR training, including formal courses (such as MED 255 or Med 255C), small-group discussions, and instruction by research training faculty members.
NIH applicants will need to describe the format for Med 255, which is described in the template PDF below.
Applicants will also need to describe the format they will use to provide continuing and ongoing training and instruction in research ethics/RCR (using their own faculty) throughout the year for each year of the trainees’ fellowship. These may be lectures, panel discussions, colloquia providing refreshers on topics covered in Med 255 (see Subject Matter), but they may also cover topics of specific ethical concern in the trainees’ field not covered by Med 255.
2) Subject Matter
The NIH lists several topics they strongly suggest RCR programs to cover, all of which are covered in MED 255 (link):
- Conflict of interest
- Policies regarding human subjects
- Mentor/mentee responsibilities
- Collaborative research
- Peer review
- Data acquisition
- Research misconduct
- Contemporary ethical issues
3) Faculty Participation
In addition to the MED 255/Med 255C faculty, some training programs require that the department’s own faculty be involved in further RCR instruction. The NIH states:
“Training faculty and sponsors/mentors are highly encouraged to contribute both to formal and informal instruction in responsible conduct of research. Informal instruction occurs in the course of laboratory interactions and in other informal situations throughout the year. Training faculty may contribute to formal instruction in responsible conduct of research as discussion leaders, speakers, lecturers, and/or course directors. Rotation of training faculty as course directors, instructors, and/or discussion leaders may be a useful way to achieve the ideal of full faculty participation in formal responsible conduct of research courses over a period of time.” (see “Guidelines: Faculty Representation”)
Some institutes only require informal training by a faculty mentor, while others require actual formal instructor, preferably by faculty in training. If you participate in formal training, please include the names of the participating faculty members in your grant. Faculty and staff at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics may also be available to assist by serving as additional panelists.
4) Duration of Instruction
The NIH suggests training in RCR that spans across a longer interval of time in order to allow sufficient exploration and consolidation of the material. Instruction should also involve at least 8 contact hours between you and the participating faculty. The duration of instruction for Med 255 and Med 255C is covered in the PDF template below. Applicants will also need to describe the duration of instruction beyond Med 255 or Med 255C.
5) Frequency of Instruction
Some institutes require ongoing instruction throughout the year for each year of fellowship in addition to MED 255 or Med 255C, or may require retaking MED 225 or Med 255C at each stage of training.
We have created a Template that you may use as the basis of your grant. Please be sure to supplement the template with funder-specific requirements, and address all structural components mentioned above.