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Being Viewed as Objective is Critical

Posted on March 30, 2009

Keith A. Trujillo (bio) talks about an issue to consider when you get funding from the pharmaceutical industry.

 

Well actually the other issue that I was thinking about that, and that has to do with conflict of interest. Because when you get into publishing a paper or presenting that work at certain conferences or engaging in other sorts of public dissemination of the work, you will very often have to sign a conflict of interest form. And if you're seeking funding or getting funding from private industry, that will come to bear on whether or not you can present it and how you can present it. So conflict of interest is another issue that you need to face when you're getting money from that private side of things.

If you do get funding from pharmaceutical industry or let's say tobacco industry, something like that, when you go out and present your results, there may be skepticism about the validity of the results. Even if you're an exceptional scientist and do it all correctly, simply the fact that the funding has come from this private group that has something to gain from the research will automatically, perhaps, produce some skepticism.

And if somebody comes up with results that in some way can be interpreted as supporting the tobacco industry objectives, then people are going to be skeptical and think that there was some sort of bias in the research and then that could potentially taint the individual's career. People would think that they're in partner with industry rather than seeking out objective science. And as a scientist, being objective and being viewed as being objective is critical.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2008 National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse Conference in Bethesda, MD.

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