School of Medicine Policy Overview

Conflicts of interest are common and practically unavoidable in a modern research university. At Stanford, conflicts of interest can arise out of the fact that a mission of the University is to promote public good by fostering the transfer of knowledge gained through University research and scholarship to the private sector.

Two important means of accomplishing this mission include consulting and the commercialization of technologies derived from faculty research. The opportunity for researchers to receive financial rewards from these endeavors is not intrinsically unacceptable. However the potential for financial gain creates risks for the individual investigator and for the institution. Financial interests in human subjects research are of special concern. Financial conflicts are distinct from other interests that might impart bias because financial interests are discretionary.  Such conflicts are not usually necessary for the conduct of the research.  Finally, conflicts of interest can call into question the professional objectivity and ethics of the individual, and also reflects negatively on the University.

Opportunities to profit from research may affect - or appear to affect the direction of the research, objectivity of the data, or interpretation of research results. Moreover, in human research, these opportunities to profit may affect, or appear to affect, a researcher's judgments about which human subjects to enroll, the clinical care provided to subjects, the proper use of subjects' confidential health information, and create biases in study design, data collection and analysis, adverse event reporting, or the presentation and publication of research findings. On the other hand, while human subject research is the highest risk, there may be special and rare circumstances which require an individual to engage in research on human subjects despite having a financial conflict of interest

We seek to assist Stanford personnel in translating their discoveries and developments so that we can fulfill our mission to benefit the public.

We also seek to minimize the adverse affects of conflicts of interest, and to advise faculty and staff on how to avoid, mitigate, or, if necessary, how to manage those conflicts.

The purposes of this policy are to educate faculty about disclosure requirements, and to provide information about how conflicts of interest are assessed.

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