Scope of Advisory Group #6:
Conflicts of Interest and Commitment

Members of the UC faculty must increasingly balance their primary professional allegiance to the University with responsibilities and commitments that arise from their external activities, such as consulting, participating in a private commercial enterprise, or performing pro bono public service work. Conflicts of commitment may result when the time and intellectual energies devoted by the faculty member to outside activities exceed the limits permitted by University policy, or when a fulltime faculty member's primary professional loyalty is not to UC. A conflict of interest occurs when there is an entanglement of an individual's private interests and his or her professional UC obligations such that an independent observer might reasonably question whether the individual's professional actions or decisions are determined by considerations of personal gain, financial or otherwise. Such conflicts are of increasing concern, and perhaps, are unavoidable, as the University aggressively pursues a technology transfer mission. Two important means of accomplishing this mission are faculty consulting and the commercialization of technologies derived from University research. It is generally agreed that it is appropriate that faculty be rewarded for their participation in these types of activities, but that it is inappropriate for one's University actions or decisions to be determined by considerations of personal financial gain. The University has several policies to provide means for faculty and the University to manage conflicts of interest and to promote the best interests of students and others whose work depends on faculty direction.

Advisory Group #6 will review current UC policies and guidelines pertaining to the identification, prevention or management of faculty conflicts of interest and commitment. The Group will consider whether these policies and the approach to implementing them support the University's interest in expanding its relationships with industry while simultaneously protecting the integrity of the University as an institution of public trust.

Participants in Advisory Group #6:
Conflicts of Interest and Commitment

Jay Stowsky (Chair)
Director of Research Policy
and Development
UCOP

Dorothy Greene Crocker (Specialist)
Director of Sponsored Programs
UCD

David Aston
Associate Director, Office of
Technology Transfer
UCOP

Charryl Berger
Acting Program Director, Industrial
Partnership Office
LANL

Haile Debas
Dean, School of Medicine
UCSF

W.R Gomes
Vice President, Agriculture and
Natural Resources
UCOP

Marion Lentz
Manager, University/Industry Research
UCB

Martin Rachmeler
Director, Technology Transfer Office
UCSD

Niels Reimers
Director, Office of Technology
Management
UCSF

David G. Schetter
Director, University/Industry Research &
Technology Office
UCI

Robert N. Shelton
Vice Provost for Research
UCOP

P. Martin Simpson
Resident Counsel, Office of
Technology Transfer
UCOP

Delia H. Talamantez
Director, Conflict of Interest,
Environmental Health & Safety
UCSD

Robert T. Tjian
Professor, Molecular and cell Biology
UCB

Harry W.K. Tom
Professor, Physics
UCR

Stephen White
Professor, Physiology and Biophysics
UCI

Report of Advisory Group #6:
Conflicts of Interest and Commitment

On the first day, group members were asked to identify the major opportunities and concerns associated with the University's approach to dealing with conflicts of interest and commitment. On the second day, group members were asked to derive a set of guiding principles and a set of recommended actions. The two-day discussion is summarized at the end of this report.

Opportunities:

Concerns/Challenges:

Financial attachments between a faculty member and a company can give rise to concerns, on the part of independent observers, about potential conflicts between that faculty member's private interests and his or her professional obligations. A partial list of such concerns includes:

Guiding Principles:

Recommended Actions:

Summary of Discussion:

In general, group members felt that the University of California needs to change its attitude toward conflicts of interest and commitment that arise in the context of faculty and Laboratory staff interaction with industry. They want the policy and procedures the University uses to manage such conflicts to be clearer, less punitive, and more streamlined in terms of paperwork. They also want campuses and Laboratory staff to have more discretion in implementing systemwide policies once they are clearly articulated by the Office of the President. At the same time, they feel that concerns about potential and actual conflicts are quite legitimate, and that the University should in fact encourage more disclosure, not less. There are serious gaps in the University's "arsenal" for dealing with these problems, and a major source of those gaps is the University's reliance on external agency requirements (FPPC and NSF/PHS) instead of an internally-generated set of norms and policies. The general feeling is that if faculty and Laboratory staff felt that their relationships with industry were encouraged and valued, and if they were educated as to potential sources of conflict and the concerns that arise because of them (both internally and externally), they would be more likely to view disclosure as a justifiable obligation of "citizenship" at the University of California.

Comments on the Report of Advisory Group #6:
Conflicts of Interest and Committment

All comments were incorporated into final report.

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