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A Natural Science Perspective

Managing Conflicts of Interest? The UCSD Experience

by: Robert C. Dynes
Chancellor, University of California, San Diego

Chancellor Dynes' talk elaborated on the ideas and issues outlined in the following slides. Digital video of his forum presentation is available.

Scenario 1

--Researcher has consulting agreement with a company and performs accordingly.
--During a consulting visit, the company mentions an interesting question; researcher performs related experiment in university lab, using university students.
--Should researcher share the results of the lab experiment with his client?
            Researcher's consulting agreement conforms to university policy.
            Researcher discloses consulting agreement.
            Students are free to publish results of research.

Scenario 2
--Researcher makes an invention as a result of federally funded grant.
--Researcher starts his own company in his/her garage and secures license for his invention.
--Researcher continues basic research at the university and works at his company.
--Should researcher's continuation federal grant be funded?
            Researcher is a full-time faculty member.
            Invention was disclosed to the university TT office.
            Researcher's family members staff the company; researcher is VP-Research at the
            company.
            In lieu of license fees, researcher offers the university an equity stake in company.

Scenario 3
--Researcher is about to conduct clinical trials at the university; trials are related to a product under development in a company in which researcher has substantial stake.

--Researcher's work is being funded by a federal grant.
--Researcher holds position of Chief Scientist at the company and receives consulting income.
--Should researcher be allowed to conduct trials?
            Researcher's relationship with the company is public.
            Product promises significant, long-awaited benefits to the public.

What Conflict?
--Ethics in the Research Environment
--Individual versus Institutional Conflicts of Interest
--Actual versus Perceived Conflicts of Interest

An Overview of COI Activity
--An Historical Perspective
--Why Have Things Changed?
--Public Perceptions

UCSD Model
--Philosophy & Principles

UCSD Practice
--Independent Review Committee (IRC)
            Faculty Involvement
            Administrative Oversight

Management Strategies
--Negotiated strategies include:
            Consulting agreement appropriately structured
            PI required to resign from management or scientific advisory board
            PI required to divest equity holdings
            Find another PI to manage the project
--Charge ad hoc panels for ongoing monitoring

Ad Hoc Panels
--Charge
--Number
--Monitoring Activities

A Look at the Numbers
FY90 FY97 FY99
No. of Dollars Awards No. of Dollars Awards No. of Dollars Awards
Total 1,721 240.6 2,125 351.4 2,493 446.1
DHHS 540 102.6 525 134.0 556 166.0
NSF 279 29.7 307 48.1 378 89.8
Industrial 69 8.2 320 29.7 455 40.3

 
FY90 FY97 FY99
Disclosures 333* 1,669 2,090
Positives 35 123 148
% Positive 10.5% 7.4% 7.1%
*Represents industrial only; federal disclosure requirement was not implemented until October 1995

The Future
--Increased complexity & uncertainty
--Redoubled efforts to refine polices and practices
--Ongoing scrutiny from the public

Entrepreneurial scientists overcome conflict issues
Final slide was an article by this title from the San Diego Union-Tribune (October 29, 2000).

 

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