|Title:||Financial Conflicts of Interest in Research|
|Policy Owner:||Vice President for Research|
|Applies to:||Faculty, Staff, Students|
|Campus Applicability:||Storrs and Regional Campuses|
|Approval Date:||January 30, 2023|
|Effective Date:||January 30, 2023|
|For More Information, Contact||Director, Sponsored Program Services|
|Contact Information:||(860) 486-3622|
Investigators at the University of Connecticut (University) promote the research mission of the University relating to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge that emerges from that research. Participation in activities of professional associations, industry collaborations, and other public and private entities can assist in meeting these expectations, while also serving the academic interests of the University. In addition, such participation brings enhanced national and international status to the University and the State. Over the past decade, the opportunity for University faculty and staff to engage in external professional and entrepreneurial activities has increased markedly, and is encouraged by the state and federal governments because of the resulting economic development beneﬁts. The State of Connecticut has determined that the commercialization of University research and technology transfer is critical to Connecticut’s long-term economic growth.
However, it is vital that Investigators adhere to state and federal regulations dealing with avoiding and managing potential and existing conﬂicts of interest. In order for the University to maintain public trust and support in carrying out its mission, including all sponsored activities, the University must demonstrate that it subjects itself to the highest standards of ethical behavior.
This Policy on Financial Conﬂicts of Interest in Research (Policy) provides guidelines to promote objectivity in research. The Policy establishes standards to ensure that the design, conduct, and reporting of research funded by extramural sponsors will not be biased by any conﬂicting ﬁnancial interest of an Investigator. The University encourages Investigators to engage in appropriate outside relationships, but signiﬁcant ﬁnancial interests related to these relationships need to be disclosed, reviewed, and managed in accordance with this Policy.
APPLICABLE FEDERAL REGULATIONS
The following federal regulations inform this policy:
Department of Energy (DOE) Interim Conflict of Interest Policy
Public Health Service (PHS)
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
In summary, the federal policies and regulations stipulate:
- Disclosures of signiﬁcant ﬁnancial interests by ALL Investigators;
- Institutional certiﬁcation that all proposed and ongoing sponsored research is either free of ﬁnancial conﬂicts of interest, or that such conﬂicts are managed, reduced or eliminated, and reported as required by applicable regulations;
- The implementation of an institutional mechanism for managing ﬁnancial conﬂicts of interest in research;
- Notiﬁcation of sponsors, as required, of management plans and if the University is unable to manage ﬁnancial conﬂicts of interest satisfactorily;
- Monitoring of compliance, procedures for retroactive review in cases of non-compliance, enforcement mechanisms, and sanctions where appropriate;
- Maintenance of records relating to this policy for at least three years following the termination of a given project; and,
- Providing information and training to Investigators, as required by applicable regulations.
Business: any corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, ﬁrm, franchise, association, organization, holding company, joint stock company, receivership, business or real estate trust, or any other legal entity organized for proﬁt or charitable purposes.
Clinical Investigation(PHS): any experiment in which a drug is administered or dispensed to, or used, involving one or more human subjects. An experiment here is any use of a drug, except for the use of a marketed drug in the course of medical practice.
Clinical Investigation (FDA): any experiment that involves a test article and one or more human subjects, and that either is subject to requirements for prior submission to the Food and Drug Administration under section 505(i) or 520(g) of the act, or is not subject to requirements for prior submission to the Food and Drug Administration under these sections of the act, but the results of which are intended to be submitted later to, or held for inspection by, the Food and Drug Administration as part of an application for a research or marketing permit. The term does not include experiments that are subject to the provisions of part 58 of the chapter, regarding non-clinical laboratory studies.
Financial Conﬂict of Interest (FCOI): a situation in which signiﬁcant ﬁnancial interests in a business, or other personal considerations provided by a business, may compromise, or have the appearance of compromising, an Investigator’s professional judgment in conducting or reporting research, the results of which could affect the aforementioned business, either directly or indirectly. An FCOI exists when the University, through its designated oﬃcial(s), reasonably determines that an Investigator’s Signiﬁcant Financial Interest is related to a research project and could directly and signiﬁcantly affect the design, conduct or reporting of the research.
Human Subject (PHS regulations “Protection of Human Subjects” 45 CFR Part 46, as administered by OHRP): a living individual about whom an Investigator conducting research obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or identiﬁable private information.
Human Subject (FDA regulations 21 CFR 50): an individual who is, or becomes, a participant in research, either as a recipient of the test article or as a control. A subject may be either a healthy human or a patient.
Immediate Family: the Investigator’s spouse/domestic partner and dependent children.
Institutional Responsibilities: an Investigator’s professional responsibilities on behalf of the University, which include research, teaching, and service as, e.g., outlined in the Policy on Faculty Professional Responsibilities (http://policy.uconn.edu/?p=659).
Intellectual Property: a product of the intellect that has commercial value, including copyrighted works, patents, business methods, and industrial processes.
Investigator: the principal investigator and any other person (regardless of title or position) who is responsible for the design, conduct or reporting of research or educational activities*. This may include faculty and research staff (research associates and assistants, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, visiting scientists engaged in research conducted at the University) as well as consultants.
*For DOE funded projects, the definition states that the Principal Investigator or any other person, regardless of title or position, who is responsible for the purpose, design, conduct, or reporting of a project.
Research (PHS regulation 45 CFR 46.102(d)): a systematic investigation, including research development, testing and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge. Activities which meet this deﬁnition constitute research for purposes of this Policy, whether or not they are conducted or supported under a program which is considered research for other purposes.
Signiﬁcant Financial Interest (SFI):
- Signiﬁcant Financial Interest means:
|For DOE, PHS and all sponsors that follow the 2011 PHS FCOI Regulations||For NSF and all other sponsors:
|With regard to any publicly traded entity, an SFI exists if the value of any remuneration received from the entity in the twelve months preceding the disclosure and the value of any equity interest in the entity as of the date of disclosure, when aggregated, exceeds $5,000; or
With regard to any non-publicly traded entity, an SFI exists if the value of any remuneration received from the entity in the twelve months preceding the disclosure, when aggregated, exceeds $5,000, or when the Investigator (or the Investigator’s Immediate Family) holds any equity interest(e.g., stock, stock option, or other ownership interest); or
Intellectual property rights and interests (e.g., patents, copyrights), upon receipt of income related to such rights and interests.
|An equity interest that when aggregated for the Investigator and the Investigator’s Immediate Family exceeded $5,000 over the last 12 months, and/or is expected to exceed $5,000 in value over the next 12 months as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures of fair market value; or when the Investigator (or the Investigator’s Immediate Family) holds a 5% or greater equity interest (e.g., partnership, ownership, stock, stock option, or other ownership interest) in a single publicly traded entity or holds any equity interest in a non-publicly traded entity; or
Salary, royalties or other payments not from the University for services (e.g., consulting fees or honoraria) that when aggregated for the Investigator and the Immediate Family over the last 12 months exceeded $5,000 or are expected to exceed $5,000 over the next 12 months;
|Investigators also must disclose the occurrence of any reimbursed or sponsored travel (i.e., that which is paid on behalf of the Investigator and not reimbursed to the Investigator so that the exact monetary value may not be readily available), related to their Institutional Responsibilities.
- In addition, the following needs to be disclosed for Clinical Investigations covered by FDA regulations:
- Compensation made to the Investigator in which the value of compensation could be affected by the outcome of the study/research project.
- A proprietary interest in the tested product, including, but not limited to, a patent, trademark, copyright or licensing agreement.
- Signiﬁcant payments of other sorts, which are payments that have a cumulative monetary value of $25,000 or more made by the sponsor of a covered study to the investigator or the investigators’ institution to support activities of the investigator exclusive of the costs of conducting the clinical study or other clinical studies, (e.g., a grant to fund ongoing research, compensation in the form of equipment or retainers for ongoing consultation or honoraria) during the time the clinical investigator is carrying out the study and for one year following completion of the study.
- Department of Energy
- For each disclosure investigators will comply with the DOE specific certification statement requirements.
- The term Signiﬁcant Financial Interest does not include the following types of ﬁnancial interests:
- Salary, royalties, or other remuneration paid by the Institution to the Investigator if the Investigator is currently employed or otherwise appointed by the University, including intellectual property rights assigned to the University and agreements to share in royalties related to such rights;
- Income from investment vehicles, such as mutual funds and retirement accounts, as long as the Investigator does not directly control the investment decisions made in these vehicles;
- Income from seminars, lectures, or teaching engagements sponsored by a federal, state, or local government agency, an institution of higher education as deﬁned at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is aﬃliated with an Institution of higher education;**; or
- Income from service on advisory committees or review panels for a federal, state, or local government agency, an Institution of higher education as deﬁned at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is aﬃliated with an institution of higher education.**
- Travel that is reimbursed or sponsored by a federal, state, or local government agency, an Institution of higher education as deﬁned at 20 U.S.C. 1001(a), an academic teaching hospital, a medical center,** or a research institute that is aﬃliated with an Institution of higher education.
** Department of Energy policy does not exclude academic teaching hospitals or medical centers for letters c, d and e above.
Sponsor: an individual company, or any entity which takes responsibility for the initiation, management, and/or ﬁnancing of a research project, but which does not actually conduct the investigation.
A copy of this policy will be sent to all current Investigators and will be provided to all new Investigators upon hire. The policy is also available on the UConn website under “University Policies.”
All PHS-funded and DOE- funded Investigators must complete training prior to engaging in PHS or DOE funded research and at least every four years thereafter as well as under the following circumstances (in the timeframes noted in parentheses):
- The University’s Financial Conﬂict of Interest policy changes such that Investigator requirements are affected (within 60 days).
- An Investigator is new to the University (prior to engaging in PHS or DOE funded research).
- The University ﬁnds that an Investigator is not in compliance with the Policy or a management plan, as applicable.
III. Disclosure of Significant Financial Interests
Each Investigator must disclose his/her known SFIs (including those of the Investigator’s Immediate Family) that reasonably appear to be related to the Investigator’s Institutional Responsibilities, or that would reasonably appear to be affected by the research for which funding is sought or are in entities whose ﬁnancial interests would reasonably be affected by the research. In determining whether a ﬁnancial interest has to be disclosed, the Investigator shall consult the deﬁnition of SFI within this policy and, if in doubt, resolve in favor of disclosure.
- Disclosure for each Proposal Submission: At the time of submission of a new proposal, an Investigator must have completed their online ﬁnancial disclosure in the I nfoEd External Interests Module. The University will not submit a proposal until such disclosure has been submitted.
- Changes in SFI: An updated disclosure shall be completed and ﬁled within thirty (30) days at any time when an Investigator acquires or discovers a new reportable SFI not disclosed in the last disclosure. For existing Investigators on a project, new or newly identiﬁed SFIs will be reviewed promptly to determine if an FCOI exists, create a management plan if necessary and report the newly identiﬁed FCOI to the sponsor within 60 days if required.
- Human Subject Research: When research involves human subjects, the Investigator must disclose SFIs to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) with every submission of protocols. If an Investigator has an FCOI, but a management plan is not on ﬁle, the IRB will contact the VPR or their designee and hold approval of the protocol until the FCOIR makes a determination.
- New Investigators: If research is ongoing and an Investigator newly participating in the project discloses an SFI related to that research, those SFIs will be reviewed promptly to determine if an FCOI exists, create a management plan if necessary and report the newly identiﬁed FCOI to the sponsor within 60 days if required.
IV. Determination, Resolution, and Management of a Conflict of Interest
- The VPR will review SFI Disclosure Forms and, if an SFI is disclosed, the Investigator will be required to complete a Supplemental Information Request to Signiﬁcant Financial Interest Disclosure. The VPR or his/her delegate performs an initial administrative review and refers all disclosed SFIs to the Financial Conﬂict of Interest in Research Committee.
- The Financial Conﬂict of Interest in Research Committee (FCOIR) is appointed by the VPR and serves as the resource with respect to the determination of relatedness of SFIs and the identiﬁcation and management of COIs. The FCOIRC shall include an appointed chair and (5) additional appointed members with broad representation across the University, and may include one community member who is not a University employee.
- The FCOIRC, with the help of the Investigator and/or his/her department head and based on guidelines consistent with all applicable regulations, will determine if the SFI is related to a sponsored research project and, if so related, whether the SFI constitutes a ﬁnancial conﬂict of interest (FCOI).
- If the FCOIRC identiﬁes an FCOI, it will resolve the conﬂict by elimination, mitigation, or the creation of a management plan. The Investigator has to agree in writing to the conditions listed in such management plan. The following are examples of conditions that may be imposed:
Public disclosure of SFIs, including disclosure on manuscripts submitted for publication, on abstracts and posters submitted for presentation, and on informed consent documents;
- Monitoring of the research by independent reviewers;
- Modiﬁcation of the research;
- Disqualiﬁcation from participation in all or a portion of the activities that could be affected by the FCOI;
- Divestiture or reduction of the SFI;
- Severance of relationships that create actual or potential conﬂicts.
- An FCOI must be eliminated or a management plan agreed to before a related award will be set up. Neither the institution nor an Investigator may expend funds unless it has been determined that no FCOI exists or that the FCOI is manageable in accordance with the terms of a management plan.
If an FCOI is identiﬁed, the FCOIRC is responsible for:
- Notiﬁcation of the Investigator of the management plan designed by the Committee for his/her FCOI;
- Notiﬁcation of the Oﬃce for Sponsored Programs (OSP) to assure that no spending of funds from related grants occurs without prior approval of the FCOIRC.
- Notiﬁcation of the Oﬃce of Research Compliance of FCOI management plan when the research involves human subjects.
- Notiﬁcation of research sponsors, as required, of any FCOIs, including any measures taken to reduce, manage, or eliminate such conﬂicts. The elements of such a report shall include, at least, the items enumerated under the FCOI Regulations.
The VPR or his/her delegate will notify the above individuals, oﬃces, and sponsors on behalf of the FCOIRC. Reasonable efforts will be made to maintain the privacy of information gathered in the FCOIRC’s deliberations, within the limits imposed by applicable laws and regulations.
VI. Maintenance of Records
All records related to the implementation of this policy (e.g., Individual Financial Disclosure Forms, Supplemental Information Forms, minutes of the meetings of the COI in Research Management Committee, notiﬁcations to funding agencies, actions taken to resolve or mitigate FCOIs, etc.) will be maintained securely by the VPR for a period of at least three (3) years beyond the termination or completion of the sponsored award to which they relate, or until the resolution of any action involving those records, whichever is longer. FCOI records shall be subject to periodic review for compliance with this policy by the VPR or by any agency per applicable regulations.
If a subrecipient carries out a portion of the work, University shall take reasonable steps to ensure that any subrecipient and subrecipient Investigator complies with the applicable FCOI regulation.
University will establish, via a written agreement, the governing FCOI policy.
- Sub-recipient will certify that its FCOI policy complies with the respective regulations and, further, sub-recipient will report identiﬁed FCOIs for its investigators in a time frame that allows University to report identiﬁed FCOIs to the awarding agency.
- Alternatively, if a sub-recipient lacks a compliant FCOI policy, the subrecipient will be governed by the University’s FCOI policy; University will solicit and review sub-recipient Investigator disclosures and identify, manage and report FCOIs to the sponsor.
In the event that a sub-recipient notiﬁes University of an FCOI for sub-recipient Investigators for which University is the prime awardee, University will promptly notify the sponsor.
VIII. Public Accessibility
Prior to expending any funds under a PHS-funded grant, cooperative agreement or contract, the VPR shall ensure public accessibility of information about the FCOI, via a written response to any requestor within ﬁve (5) business days of a request, of information concerning an SFI which was disclosed and is still held by the senior/key personnel on the project, which is determined to be related to the PHS-funded research, and which is determined to be a FCOI. The information shall consist of the information required to be provided under the FCOI Regulations.
IX. Monitoring Compliance/Mitigation
- The VPR will monitor for compliance with the policy.
- If the VPR learns of an SFI that was not timely disclosed or was not timely reviewed, the VPR, or his/her delegate, shall, in consultation with the FCOIRC and no later than the sixtieth (60th) day after learning of the SFI:
- determine whether the SFI is an FCOI; and
- if an FCOI exists, implement an interim management plan or implement other interim measures to ensure the objectivity of the research going forward.
- If an FCOI was not timely identiﬁed or managed or if an Investigator fails to comply with a management plan, the VPR shall no later than the 120th day after determining noncompliance:
- complete and document a retrospective review and determination as to whether research conducted during the period of noncompliance was biased in the design, conduct, or reporting of the research; and
- implement any measures necessary with regard to Investigator’s participation in the research between the date that the noncompliance is identiﬁed and the date the retrospective review is completed.
- For PHS and DOE-covered research projects, the retrospective review shall cover key elements as speciﬁed by federal regulations and may result in updating the Financial Conﬂict of Interest Report, notifying the PHS or DOE awarding component, and submitting a mitigation report as required by federal regulation.
- University will notify the PHS and DOE of instances in which the failure of an Investigator to comply with this policy or a management plan appears to have biased the design, conduct, or reporting (and purpose for DOE funded research) of funded research. The University will make information available to HHS, PHS and DOE awarding component as required by federal regulation.
- In situations where an Investigator disputes the decision of the FCOIRC, the Investigator may request to present the case to the FCOIRC in person. An Investigator who disagrees with the FCOIRC’s determination may appeal in writing to the VPR. An appeal may be made in regard to whether the professional judgment of the Investigator is likely to affect his or her conduct of research, but Investigators may not contest the terms and conditions of this.
- The VPR may agree with the FCOIRC’s ﬁndings and/or recommendations, or may amend such ﬁndings and/or recommendations. The VPR shall promptly notify the Investigator and the FCOIRC in writing of the conclusions of his/her review, including the actions that must be taken by the Investigator to comply with this policy.
- Upon receipt of the VPR’s written report, the Investigator must promptly comply with the actions speciﬁed in that report.
XI. Implementation and Enforcement
The Provost is the senior administrator responsible for overseeing the implementation of this Policy. The Provost has delegated the disclosure/review/management process to the Vice President for Research or his/her designee (VPR). The VPR, in consultation with the Dean of the appropriate School and the Investigator(s) Department Head, will review all breaches of the policy, including:
- failure to comply with the process (by refusal to respond, by responding with incomplete or knowingly inaccurate information, or otherwise);
- failure to remedy conﬂicts; and
- failure to comply with a prescribed management plan
Sanctions and penalties for those who knowingly and willfully disregard this policy, or refuse to comply with its terms, will be determined by the VPR, in consultation with the Dean of the appropriate School, with advice from the Investigator(s) Department Head and the Department of Faculty and Staff Labor Relations . Sanctions include, but are not restricted to:
- Letter of reprimand
- Notiﬁcation to professional and/or scientiﬁc societies, funding agencies and/or professional journals
- Reassignment of duties Termination of grant support
- Adjustment of research space allocation Adjustment of salary
XII. Audit Procedures
In order to ensure that all declarations are being made and ﬁnancial conﬂicts managed, the University will implement a relevant audit program through the University’s Oﬃce of Audit and Management Advisory Services.
 E.g. American Heart Association and American Cancer Society
 For purposes of this deﬁnition, remuneration includes salary and any payment for services not
otherwise identiﬁed as salary (e.g., consulting fees, honoraria, paid authorship); equity interest includes any stock, stock option, or other ownership interest, as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures of fair market value
Policy created: 01/23/2015
Revisions: 01/30/2023 (Approved by Senior Policy Council and the President)