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Conflicts of Interest

University scientists today are encouraged to share their expertise with industry through consulting, speaking, or other arrangements; to collaborate with industry in product development; and to form their own companies. The Bayh-Dole Act allows faculty and institutions to retain title to the intellectual property resulting from their federally supported research and encourages them to promote the commercial development of their discoveries through technology licensing.

This emphasis on encouraging academic scientists to work with industry has been an unparalleled success in speeding discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace. However, the broader opportunity and role for the academic community has also led to challenges and prompted some tough questions. Such academic-industry collaboration should never compromise the safety of human research subjects or scientific integrity.

To address these issues, universities must develop and implement conflict of interest policies that enable them to review and manage the relationships between faculty members' institutional responsibilities and their outside, industry-related activities. Universities and faculty must never act in ways that compromise the public’s trust.

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