Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Clinical Research (IPPCR)

Course Description

Principles and Practice of Clinical Research 3rd Edition textbook cover
The NIH Clinical Center’s Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Clinical Research (IPPCR) course trains registrants on how to effectively and safely conduct clinical research. The course focuses on the spectrum of clinical research and the research process by highlighting biostatistical and epidemiologic methods, study design, protocol preparation, patient monitoring, quality assurance, ethical and legal issues, and much more. This course will be of interest to physicians, scientists, medical and dental students, nurses, public health professionals, and others conducting or planning a career in clinical research.

Course Objectives

  • Provide an overview of basic biostatistical and epidemiologic methods involved in conducting clinical research

  • Describe the principles involved in the ethical, legal, and regulatory issues in clinical human subjects research, including the role of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

  • Describe principles and issues involved in monitoring patient-oriented research

  • Describe the infrastructure required in performing clinical research and the steps involved in developing and funding research studies

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Dates to Remember

  • The course is conducted annually online from September through June.

  • Remote site registration for the 2017-2018 course will open on Monday, August 28 and close on Friday, December 29, 2017. After December 29 no new remote site requests will be accepted.

  • Registration for individuals at the NIH intramural program or at approved partnering remote sites for the 2017-2018 course will open on Monday, August 28 and remain open through the duration of the course.

  • The 2017-2018 course will officially start on Monday, September 18, 2017 and close on Friday, June 15, 2018.

  • The course examination will open Monday, February 5, 2018 and will remain accessible online until Friday, June 30, 2018.

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General Course Information

  • Lectures for the 2017-2018 course have been previously recorded. The course syllabus, along with all of the pertinent videos and handouts, will be posted to the participant website at the start of course. This will allow participants to watch the lectures whenever it is most convenient for them. Given the dynamic nature of clinical research, if updates are needed they will be posted. We endeavor to make sure this does not impact the course examination.

  • The course is comprised of approximately 40 lectures on various topics related to clinical research. The length of the individual lectures varies from 30 to 120 minutes. Participants should plan approximately 50 hours to watch the video-archived lectures, and additional time for course readings, discussion board participation, and the on-line multiple choice final examination.

  • The course is conducted entirely online in a self-paced format; however, it is recommended that participants view 1 to 2 lectures per week to give themselves ample time to understand the theoretical and practical aspects of the content and to prepare for the final examination.

  • No live attendance is required to participate; however, if you are participating through a remote site, remote sites may have additional guidelines for their institutional registrants.

  • Although not required, each registered participant is expected to take the online, multiple choice final examination.

  • An electronic “Certificate of Completion” is awarded to each registered participant who takes the final examination and achieves a score of 75% or higher.

  • The final exam, which typically consists of 75 to 85 multiple choice questions, will be posted to the participant website on Monday, February 5, 2018 and will remain accessible online until Friday, June 15, 2018 which allows participants five months to take the final examination and obtain their certificate of completion.

  • Each participant only permitted to take the examination one time. There are no retakes. Participants are encouraged to take as much time as needed to complete the examination by utilizing the save feature. Participants are permitted to use lecture handouts, videos, and the course textbook to help them complete the examination.

  • There is no academic credit or continuing medical education (CME) credit offered for the course.

  • The course features an online discussion board for participants to ask questions of faculty. If a participant has a question regarding a certain lecture, the participant can post their question on the discussion board associated with the lecture. The IPPCR course coordinator will then share the participants’ questions with the appropriate faculty member and post their responses to the discussion board.

  • There are no fees to register for the course. The only potential cost is the purchase of a textbook which is optional; however, since having a textbook is not required to participate in the course or to take the final exam. All questions on the final exam are based on the content of the archived lectures and handouts. The course textbook is recommended for additional reading only.

  • The course textbook, Principles and Practice of Clinical Research, Third Edition (2012, ISBN: 978 0-12-382167-6) is available for purchase from several online book retailers and at the NIH Building 10 FAES book store. A Fourth Edition of the textbook is expected to be available in late 2017 or early 2018.

  • Course Schedule

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In order to register for the IPPCR course, you must be an NIH employee (this includes contractors) or a remote site participant who has an affiliation with one of the course’s approved remote sites.

NIH Participant Registration

If you are an NIH employee or contractor, please register using the following link:

Remote Site Participant Registration

The current remote site partner list is available as part of a drop down menu under “Affiliation” on the registration site. If you would like to register as a remote site participant who is affiliated with an approved remote site for the IPPCR course, please register using the following link:

Archived Participation Option

If you are not an NIH employee or affiliated with a registered remote site, you will not be eligible to register for the course, take the examination, or receive a certificate of completion. However, you can view the archived course lectures using the IPPCR archive website or YouTube channel This is a good option for the individual learner and for people who want to focus on part but not all of the course material.

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Becoming an Approved Remote Site

If you are at an institution that qualifies, you can organize at your institution to become an approved remote site. In order to become an institutional remote site, all of the following requirements must be met:

  • Be affiliated with a university, hospital, healthcare facility, learning institution, academic medical center, or a research center.

  • Have at least 3 participants who register for the course and take the final examination.

  • Have a site Chairperson and Liaison (this can be the same person).

  • The Chairperson must hold an advanced degree (MD, PhD, DO, DDS, NP, MPH, etc...).

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Role of Remote Site Chairperson

  • Engage their institutional participants in discussion regarding the course content.

  • Help convey the lecture information into practical applications for their participants.

  • Encourage their participants to take the examination and obtain their certificates of completion (sites will be reviewed for examination rates on an annual basis).

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Role of Remote Site Liaison

  • Advertise the course at their site and encourage their members to register for the course.

  • Send weekly reminders to their site’s participants encouraging them to view at least one lecture per week.

  • Encourage their participants to take the examination and obtain their certificates of completion.

If your organization meets these requirements, please complete an online remote site request form by following the link below:

The course coordinator will respond to your request and may have follow-up questions regarding site eligibility.

Each year numerous new remote sites join the course. Sites are encouraged to host local study groups to enhance the learning experience and tie together lecture topics relevant to local needs. We encourage site members to post about their local discussions on the course discussion boards to enhance everyone’s learning experience and to share their site’s experience with the course coordinator.

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IPPCR: Contact and Questions

If you have any questions or need additional information regarding the Introduction to the Principles and Practice of Clinical Research (IPPCR) course, please email the course coordinator at: or call (301) 496-9425.


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This page last updated on 08/25/2017

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