Current version: January 12, 2009 *
* For new appointees, the provisions for identification and review of institutional conflicts of interest related to human subjects research that arise because of the financial interests of an institutional leader will be implemented immediately. It will be in effect for those with existing appointments as of June 30, 2009.
Establishes principles and procedures designed to ensure that research involving human subjects at Stanford University is conducted without untoward influence resulting from either the University's financial investments or holdings or the personal financial interests or holdings of key institutional leaders.
In developing this policyand related procedures, the University has taken into account the issues identified and discussed in "Protecting Patients, Preserving Integrity, Advancing Health: Accelerating Implementation of COI Policies in Human Subjects Research," published in 2008 by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Association of American Universities (AAU).
For purposes of this policy:
Institutional conflicts of interest are of significant concern when financial interests create the potential for inappropriate influence over the institution's activities, personnel, or resources. The risks of such conflicts include the possibility that the integrity and objectivity of the institution's research may be threatened or may be perceived to be threatened; such risks are particularly acute in human subjects research, when the protection of human subjects may be adversely affected. The principle underlying this policy is that the University is obligated to protect against exposure to these risks as they may affect the integrity of human subjects research or the safety of participants when performed at or under the auspices of the institution.
This policy recognizes the principle that individual scholars at Stanford are free to select the subject matter of their research and to seek support from any source for their work, under provisions that are stated in the Principles Concerning Research (RPH 2.1). This ICOI policy for research involving human subjects provides a process to address circumstances in which an ICOI has the potential to impact a faculty member's research adversely if it is not managed appropriately or eliminated.
When Stanford University licenses technology or other intellectual property, it may receive equity in a company as a result of that license and/or a royalty or other fee as compensation for the use of that intellectual property and may also receive equity or other financial interests as part of a co-investment in the company by the University. An institutional conflict of interest is created if an investigator at Stanford undertakes to do human subjects research on a drug, device, biologic or other item on which Stanford has a patent, has licensed the intellectual property, or receives royalties or other fees. Stanford will divest itself of such financial interest (both equity and royalty) to eliminate the ICOI as soon as the divestiture can practically be accomplished.Procedures for identification and elimination of ICOI related to licensing
If an ICOI is identified, divestiture will normally be required. Exceptions may include:
The OTL director or designee will inform the Stanford Management Company that the Stanford equity and/or royalty interest in the company sponsoring the research or in the product being studied must be divested.
OTL will notify the office of Research Compliance and the office of the Conflict of Interest Review Program of the action that has been taken to eliminate the ICOI.
Except for equity acquired as part of a licensing agreement and gifts of equity to the university, only the Stanford Management Company (SMC) is authorized to acquire equity in companies on behalf of the University. The policy of the SMC is to maintain a separation of the sources of information and decision-making related to the investment of Stanford's assets and the operations of the University, including the conduct of research. This firewall is important to separate the research and other academic functions and the investment function of the University. In addition, it is SMC policy not to make direct investments in individual stocks or equity in companies. Instead, SMC invests with outside fund managers who make the independent decisions as to which specific stocks or equity to buy and sell. As a matter of policy, SMC does not advise its outside fund managers whether to purchase or sell any individual stocks or equities held on Stanford's behalf except for maintaining a list of prohibited stocks as noted below.
Some schools and departments may acquire stocks or other equity when friends of the school or department donate to a venture fund and select stocks or other equity to be purchased by the fund. In all cases, the selection of these stocks must be made by someone who is not an employee of the University and must be made without influence, information or advice from any University employee. If a school or department has a venture fund, it must designate a senior university official who will ensure that this policy is followed and the venture fund will request that equity be purchased or sold only after the senior official conducts a thorough review to exclude possible reliance on information from university employees or attempts to influence the buying or selling of equity by them. SMC will then carry out the directions of those who are making the investment decisions for the venture fund after receiving written confirmation from the university official that this process was followed. No schools or departments may start new venture funds without written permission of the President.
SMC will be provided a list of companies by the Office of Technology Licensing (or Dean of Research) that utilize Stanford intellectual property and that are doing human subjects research at Stanford involving that intellectual property. SMC will add those companies to its overall list of companies in which the University will not hold equity and will provide that list to its outside fund managers so that the University does not acquire equity in such companies, either by its outside fund managers or through venture fund activities.
Any gifts to the university of equity in individual companies directly utilizing Stanford intellectual property to produce a drug, device, diagnostic, etc. and that are involved in human subjects research at Stanford will be sold as soon as it can be practically and legally accomplished.
Stanford may receive gifts from corporate entities that may also sponsor research involving human subjects according to policies described in RPH 3.2, Definitions and Categories of Sponsored Projects. Stanford's policies on such gifts are described in Research Policy Handbook 3.2, and in the Stanford Industry Interactions Policy, which applies to the School of Medicine, the Stanford Hospital and Clinics and the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.
"Institutional leaders" are those who have direct authority over faculty appointments, salaries, promotions, and/or allocation of institutional resources, such as assignment of graduate students or other trainees, funding or space, for faculty who are conducting human subjects research. The financial interests or holdings of institutional leaders must not affect, or reasonably appear to affect, the design, conduct, reporting, review or oversight of human subjects research carried out in the Stanford unit(s) over which they have authority, or by individuals whose Stanford appointments, or whose access to Stanford resources are under their direct oversight. Institutional leaders can include the President, the Provost, the Vice Provost and Dean of Research, School Deans, Senior Associate Deans, Department Chairs, Division Chiefs, and Institute and Center Directors. Potential institutional conflicts of interest that may involve members of IRB panels or of the individuals who serve on Conflict of Interest Committees or various committees involved with drug, device or diagnostics procurement are governed by policies and procedures that regulate these committees.
Any direct financial interests of an institutional leader in a company that is sponsoring human subjects research or a financial interest related to intellectual property that is the subject of human subjects research at Stanford must be disclosed when an individual(s) in the unit for which he or she is the institutional leader proposes such research, subject to the thresholds described below. Direct financial interests include:
Department chairs are required to review and sign off on all research proposals being submitted by faculty in their departments, divisions or institutes, including those involving human subjects research. This review occurs when the proposal is submitted for funding to an extramural sponsor (as part of the electronic submission of the Proposal Development & Routing Form, PDRF) or in meeting their obligation to provide scientific evaluation when internal funds are used to support a human subjects research project. In carrying out these duties, the chair must identify any personal financial conflict of interest, regardless of value, that he or she has in the research sponsor or in an entity that owns or controls the investigational product that is the subject of the research.
In departments that have division chiefs, the chair must also determine whether the division chief has any personal financial conflicts related to the HSR. Center and Institute directors who have a role comparable to chairs or division chiefs are also subject to these requirements.
In addition, at the beginning of the initial term of a department chair, a division chief or center or institute director who has these duties, must review all active research projects involving human subjects in the department, division or institute to identify any potential conflicts of interest that exist at that time.
Any conflicts that are identified through these procedures, regardless of the value of the interest, must be disclosed to the School Dean or designee for review. The conflict will be determined to be significant if it involves:
Any conflict of an institutional leader that is found to be significant by these criteria must be referred to the ICOI Committee (ICOIC) for its evaluation and recommendation to the Provost.
These institutional leaders do not have direct knowledge of all of the human subjects research at Stanford and do not have a role in reviewing the submission of specific research proposals or internally funded human subjects research. Therefore, as part of their annual conflict of interest disclosure, they will disclose all of their direct financial interests and indicate whether they are significant. For these purposes, a direct financial interest is deemed significant if it involves:
Senior Associate Deans for Research (or equivalent) will disclose to the School Dean. The School Deans and the Vice Provost and Dean of Research will disclose to the Provost, the Provost will disclose to the President and the President will disclose to the Chair of the Board of Trustees.
The annual disclosures that list companies in which these institutional leaders have a significant financial interest will be provided to Office of Research Compliance by the person responsible for receiving the individual's annual COI disclosure. If any human subjects research is proposed during the year involving one of these companies, the institutional leader(s) and the Dean of Research, who chairs the ICOI committee, will be notified by the Office of Research Compliance. If at any time during the year, an institutional leader becomes aware of actual or proposed human subjects research involving a company or the product of a company for which they have a significant financial interest, they shall advise the Office of Research Compliance and the Dean of Research, as chair of the ICOI Committee of the possible ICOI. If the Dean of Research has the potential ICOI, an alternate chair will serve during the ICOIC review.
The Institutional Conflict of Interest Committee (ICOIC) will review cases arising from the significant personal financial interests of institutional leaders. This committee is not charged with reviewing institutional conflicts of interest resulting from the financial investments or holdings of Stanford University because the ICOI policy requires divestiture. An exception (which requires ICOIC review and the Provost’s approval) may occur when the conflict is associated with intellectual property involving platform technology not obviously directly related to a specific human subjects research protocol. In all cases, the ICOIC will report to the Provost who will make the final decision about its recommendations.
The members of the ICOIC will be appointed by the Provost. The Dean of Research will chair the ICOIC. Members will include the Senior Associate Deans of Research or their equivalent from each school or a senior faculty member with relevant expertise and at least two other senior faculty. The committee will also include two members of the public with no significant relationships with the institution. If the Dean of Research has a conflict, the Provost will prepare the relevant materials and submit them directly to the ICOIC; the Dean of Research will be recused and an alternate chair appointed by the Provost. The dean of the school from which the ICOI is generated will be invited to serve as an ad hoc member for the discussion of cases pertaining to his or her school. Any member should abstain from ICOIC business when they have a personal COI or involvement in institutional COI that relates to a research proposal under review
When an ICOI that involves a human subjects research project is identified that results from a significant financial interest of an institutional leader, the relevant school dean or designee will prepare a case document describing the nature of the ICOI. The case document will be submitted to the Dean of Research and must include a statement from the institutional official whose personal financial interests have created the conflict, from the faculty member whose research is potentially affected, and from the IRB as to the level of risk to human subjects. If the Dean of Research has the ICOI, the Provost will prepare the documents.
The ICOIC will review and assess the case document using the criteria listed below. As a result of this assessment, the recommendation to the Provost may:
In determining whether a recommendation to manage the ICOI should be considered, the ICOIC will evaluate all relevant factors, including:
If the ICOIC makes a recommendation for management, the report to the Provost must provide a management plan that includes some or all of the following recommendations:
The Provost will review the ICOI committee's recommendations and make the final decision about whether a proposed management plan is acceptable. The Provost will report the decision to the relevant school deans and the Dean of Research.
If the conflicted institutional leader is a dean, or vice provost or provost, the case document and the Provost's decision will be transmitted to the President. If the conflict involves the President or Provost (for example if the Dean of a School is conducting human subjects research for a company in which the Provost has a direct financial interest), then the final decision will be made by the President (in the case of the Provost) or the Chair of the Board of Trustee's Audit and Compliance Committee (in the case of the President).
The Dean of Research will communicate the Provost's decision to the Office of Research Compliance for notification of the IRB, to the Office of Sponsored Research if the institutional COI involves a sponsored research project, so that OSR can meet any reporting obligations, and to the relevant dean or associate dean so that the recommendations can be implemented at the level of the individual schools.