Conflict of Interest
FINANCIAL CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN RESEARCH AND SCHOLARSHIP POLICY
Financial Conflict of Interest Certification Form FY23 – for Annual Updated Disclosures
UHD’s engagement in sponsored research is an important aspect of an ongoing mission to work with the community to address the needs and advance the development of this region and beyond. UHD’s unique programs, diversity and locations mean that faculty, students, and staff are increasingly connected with a complex world of industry, investment, and entrepreneurial ventures.
A Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) in research exists when it can be reasonably determined that an investigator's (or a family member’s) personal financial concerns (“Significant Financial Interest”) could directly and significantly influence the design, conduct, or reporting of sponsored research activities, and/or impact the investigator's UHD responsibilities.
Such conflicts in research must be addressed properly through training, disclosure, review, and where necessary, management and/or elimination. Without due attention, conflicts have the potential to bias research, undermine peer review, grab the news headlines, and undermine the public’s trust in the conduct and outcomes of studies and trials.
Faculty, students and staff of the University have an obligation to maintain the objectivity of their research to avoid any conflict of interest.
Objectivity in Research continues to be a key focus of governmental funding agencies and the scientific community. In 2011, the revised regulation (42 CFR part 50.604) established standards that provide a reasonable expectation that the design, conduct, and reporting of research funded under Public Health Service (PHS) and National Science Foundation (NSF) grants, or cooperative agreements, will be free from bias resulting from Investigator financial conflicts of interest.
Investigator – In this context an investigator is defined as any person, regardless of title or position, who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of the externally funded research. Therefore, this includes faculty leading sponsored research projects as well as staff and students conducting and reporting on the research. Department Business Administrators (DBAs) and College Business Administrators (CBAs), and other Research Support staff should also be included in required training and certifications.
In accordance with System Administrative Memorandum 02.A.29 – Ethical Conduct of Employees, no employee shall accept consulting or paid professional service which could result in any conflict of interest that would impair his/her independence of judgment in performance of university duties.
This policy also requires annual certification by faculty, exempt and other key staff involved in funded research activities, including disclosure of any external consulting, employment, and professional activities, including service on governing boards and ownership in outside enterprises. Disclosure is required for any actual, perceived, or potential conflicts of interest related to external employment, benefits, or external investments.
Please review the attached policy and frequently asked questions.
All individuals meeting the definition of Investigator, Administrators and Research Support Staff must take an Institutionally-recognized FCOI training course before utilizing research funds and at least once every four years - 42 CFR 50.604(b).
UHD utilizes the brief FCOI modules 1 and 2 provided through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI), of which UHD is a member:
- Financial Conflicts of Interest Overview, Investigator responsibilities, and COI Rules (COI Basic) (ID 15070), and
- Institutional Responsibilities as they Affect Investigators (COI Basic) (ID 15072)
Please see further instructions in this document: CITI Training Access Guidance
All individuals who meet the definition of Investigator as defined above must provide certification of their knowledge of and compliance with this policy on an annual basis. The certification process involves either a certification that no significant financial interests exist, or the disclosure of existing significant financial interests to the Institution. In addition to the annual requirement, the acquisition or discovery of new significant financial interests requires disclosure within 30 days.
Disclosure is required when an Investigator who is new to participating in the research project or when an existing Investigator discloses a new Significant Financial Interest (SFI), the institution's designated official(s) shall within sixty (60) days review disclosures of SFIs - 42 CFR 50.605(a)(2).
All disclosures are reviewed by the UHD Conflict of Interest Committee (COIC).
Should an investigator wish to appeal a decision made by the COIC, he or she may present the appeal in writing to the Provost. If the Provost has a potential conflict of interest in the decision, the appeal will go to the President. The Provost/President decision on the appeal is final.
Significant Financial Interest
- From a publicly-traded entity: Remuneration from non-UHD sources that includes payment for services such as consulting, advising, lectures, honoraria, paid authorship; reimbursed or sponsored travel; and royalties, that when aggregated over the past 12 months exceeds $5,000;
- From a publicly-traded entity: The value of stock, stock options, or ownership interests held on the date of disclosure, that when aggregated over the past 12 months exceeds $5,000;
- From a publicly-traded entity: A combination of the above items of income and equity, that when aggregated over the past 12 months exceeds $5,000;
- From a private entity: Any amount of stock, stock options, ownership interests, or rights to such interests;
- From a foreign institution of higher education or the government of another country: all financial interests;
- From a non-publicly traded entity: Remuneration that exceeds $5,000 in the past 12 months, or
- From any source other than UHD: Intellectual Property Rights and interests (e.g., patents and copyrights), upon receipt of such income related to such rights and interests income related to intellectual property rights in excess of $5,000.
The investigator does not need to disclose income for services (for example, honoraria,
advisory committees, or review panels) and travel expenses paid by a federal, state,
or local government agency, a U.S. institution of higher education, or a research
institute affiliated with a U.S. institution of higher education, a medical center,
or an academic teaching hospital.
Common sense must prevail in the interpretation of these provisions. That is, if a reasonable, disinterested person would question the relationship, it should be disclosed and approval sought for the proposed arrangement.
How is “Family Member" defined?
Family: as defined in the University of Houston System - SAM 02.A.29: OFFICIAL (uhsystem.edu) this includes a family member related to an employee or official within the second degree by affinity or consanguinity. A family member under this definition includes the following relatives of the employee or official: child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, sister, brother, grandchild, grandparent, mother-in-law, father-in law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, stepson, stepdaughter, stepmother, stepfather, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, spouse's grandparent, spouse's grandchild, grandchild's spouse, or the spouse of a grandparent.
- 2011 revised regulation on Promoting Objectivity in Research (42 CFR part 50.604)
- NIH page on Financial Conflict of Interest
- NSF 22-1 October 4, 2021 – Proposal & Award Policies & Procedure Guide (PAPPG) on Conflict of Interest Policies
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) page on Conflict of Interest Policy
PS06A09 - Policy on Financial Conflicts of Interest in Research and Scholarship - November 2021
Financial Conflict of Interest Certification Form FY22 - for Annual and Updated Disclosures