Conflict of Interest and Commitment
What is a Conflict of Interest?
Conflicts of interest arise when two activities interact such that professional judgment in one may be, or may seem to be, influenced by the other. One example of a conflict of interest is a professor who conducts research on the genetic bases for breast cancer and who owns a company that develops and sells laboratory tests to identify genetic sequences linked to breast cancer. Because of a close connection between research and entrepreneurial activities, it is hard to imagine that the professor wouldn't have ideas for his company based on his research and that the direction of research couldn’t be influenced by company priorities.
What can I do about Conflicts of Interest?
When an actual conflict of interest, or the perception of one, exists, researchers can chose to eliminate or manage it. For example, a conflict of interest created by conducting a clinical trial on a drug and, at the same time, receiving substantial compensation as a speaker for a company with a major competing product could be eliminated by not accepting speaking engagements.
What Rules Apply at the University of Maryland College Park?
State and University policies require annual disclosures of outside activities from faculty members, academic staff, and principal or co-investigators on federal grants or human subjects protocols. Federal policies require the University to eliminate, minimize, or manage any potential or actual conflicts of interest between an investigator's federally funded research and significant financial interests that might reasonably appear to affect, or be affected by, the federally funded work. The Conflict of Interest Committee oversees the annual disclosure process and review of disclosures to meet those obligations. For further information on the committee’s activities, see the University of Maryland College Park's Conflict of Interest website.