Human Subjects Responsible Conduct of Research Course

This RCR course is designed for researchers who work with human subjects or data derived from human subjects (e.g. clinical, survey, EHR, or ethnographic data). The course is comprised of video and in-person lectures, readings, case studies, and weekly real-time small group discussions via Zoom. It addresses requirements and regulations for human subjects research, including IRB approval and consent. 

Responsible Conduct of Research is an 8-week course. Participants are expected to devote at least 4 hours per week to individual work and small group discussion. Receiving a passing grade in the course requires attending a one-hour discussion session by Zoom every week. There are no exceptions to this rule. Topics include:

  • Overview of Human Subjects Research Regulations
  • Informed Consent & IRB Review
  • Legacies of Scientific Racism
  • Authorship & Data Sharing
  • Research in Resource-Poor Countries
  • Research Misconduct, Conflicts of Interest, & Reproducibility
  • Ethics in Big Data Research & Learning Health Systems
  • Ethics in AI-Based Research

The course is offered twice a year, in Fall and Spring Quarters and administered by UCSF Bioethics. Registration for each course will open in the preceding Quarter.

Fall 2024 Dates:

September 30th, 2024 – November 22nd, 2024
There will be a wide variety of days and times for the weekly discussion sections – learners will select their discussion section during the first week of the course.

Spring 2025 Dates:

March 31st, 2024 – May 23rd, 2025
There will be a wide variety of days and times for the weekly discussion sections – learners will select their discussion section during the first week of the course.

Am I eligible to take Human Subjects RCR?

This class is open to all UCSF faculty, fellows, and postdoctoral trainees whose research is primarily conducted with human subjects or the data (clinical or otherwise) derived from human subjects. This includes both researchers whose methods are quantitative and whose methods are qualitative. 5th year graduate students who need to take an RCR refresher course are also eligible but should enroll in the RCR course that best fits their research agenda (Basic Science or Human Subjects). If you have questions about your eligibility, please email the program coordinator at [email protected]

Am I required to take Human Subjects RCR?

The NIH, NSF, and other federal funders require all individuals on training or career development awards to take Responsible Conduct of Research at least every four years and at least once per career level. This applies to all levels of training awards (e.g. T32 for postdoctoral scholars or K awards for faculty).

Postdoctoral scholars are strongly advised to take RCR in their first year of training, even if you received training recently as a graduate student. 

If you are not sure if you are required to take RCR, please contact [email protected]. Faculty and postdoctoral scholars not funded by NIH or NSF are still strongly encouraged to enroll. 

I am an established researcher on a career development award. Do I need to take Human Subjects RCR?

Any faculty funded on a training or career development award is subject to the NIH requirement for RCR Training. This includes K and F awards for mid- and late-career researchers. However, NIH recognizes that RCR training may look different for scholars with a more established research agenda. Given that, midcareer and senior scholars at UCSF are invited to serve as small group facilitators for the Human Subjects RCR course, rather than enrolling in the course as learners. Please contact the course manager at [email protected] if you are interested in this option.

I took the CITI Human Subjects Protection Training. Do I need to take Human Subjects RCR?

The CITI Human Subjects Protection Training is required by the UCSF IRB for any Key Study Personnel at UCSF or at affiliated institutions to engage in human subjects research. IRB approval of a study is contingent on study personnel having fulfilled this requirement. However, the CITI training does not meet NIH requirements for RCR and does not replace the need for formal RCR instruction for anyone funded on an NIH training or career development award.

Human Subjects RCR Course Contacts

Sara Ackerman, PhD, MPH
[email protected]
Associate Professor, UCSF Bioethics 
Associate Professor, Social and Behavioral Sciences
Spring RCR Course Director

Julia Brown, PhD
[email protected]
Assistant Professor, UCSF Bioethics
Assistant Professor, Humanities & Social Sciences
Fall RCR Course Director

Matty Norstad, MPH
[email protected]
Bioethics Program Manager