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Creating an Infrastructure for Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research: The University of Pittsburgh's Experience

Barnes, Barbara E. MD, MS; Friedman, Charles P. PhD; Rosenberg, Jerome L. PhD; Russell, Joanne RN, MPPM; Beedle, Ari MBA; Levine, Arthur S. MD

Research Issues at AHCs

In response to public concerns about the consequences of research misconduct, academic institutions have become increasingly cognizant of the need to implement comprehensive, effective training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR) for faculty, staff, students, and external collaborators. The ability to meet this imperative is challenging as universities confront declining financial resources and increasing complexity of the research enterprise.

The authors describe the University of Pittsburgh's design, implementation, and evaluation of a Web-based, institution-wide RCR training program called Research and Practice Fundamentals (RPF). This project, established in 2000, was embedded in the philosophy, organizational structure, and technology developed through the Integrated Advanced Information Management Systems grant from the National Library of Medicine. Utilizing a centralized, comprehensive approach, the RPF system provides an efficient mechanism for deploying content to a large, diverse cohort of learners and supports the needs of research administrators by providing access to information about who has successfully completed the training. During its first 3 years of operation, the RPF served over 17,000 users and issued more than 38,000 training certificates. The 18 modules that are currently available address issues required by regulatory mandates and other content areas important to the research community. RPF users report high levels of satisfaction with content and ease of using the system. Future efforts must explore methods to integrate non-RCR education and training into a centralized, cohesive structure. The University of Pittsburgh's experience with the RPF demonstrates the importance of developing an infrastructure for training that is comprehensive, scalable, reliable, centralized, affordable, and sustainable.

Dr. Barnes is associate professor of medicine and assistant vice chancellor for continuing education in the health sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Friedman is professor of medicine and associate vice chancellor and director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is currently on leave as Senior Scholar at the National Library of Medicine.

Dr. Rosenberg is research integrity officer and chair, Conflict of Interest Committee, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Ms. Russell is administrator of research education, Office of Clinical Research, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Beedle is systems program manager, Research Conduct and Compliance Office, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Levine is professor of medicine and molecular genetics and biochemistry, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences, and dean, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Barnes, Center for Continuing Education in the Health Sciences, 200 Lothrop Street (overnight mail: 3708 Fifth Avenue), Pittsburgh, PA 15213; telephone: (412) 647-8212; fax: (412) 647-1244; e-mail: 〈barnesbe@upmc.edu〉.

© 2006 Association of American Medical Colleges