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Disclosure of Funding

Posted on June 27, 2013

David Weber (bio) addresses the issue of disclosing external funds from all sources.

 

So when you get external funds, regardless of whether it's from a federal agency or pharma, all of that needs to be disclosed. It's disclosed when you write your papers, whatever funding source it is. When you review a paper, you need to disclose to the editor if you have any funding and conflicts of interest there. And those funding sources obviously need to be disclosed internally to your department whenever you have external funding. And when you give a talk at a national lecture, the first thing you do is talk about your funding sources there.

And, in fact, under the new federal rules, for instance, if you receive any money as a grant, if you get other funding, even if it's from a nonprofit, even if it's not funds to you directly, for instance for travel, that has to be disclosed. So, for instance, I'm working on some guidelines for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I get no money for this, but I do get to travel every now and then to Washington and stay overnight in Washington and work at the headquarters for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Bethesda. If they cover the cost of my room, that has to be disclosed, even though I'm not receiving any direct funds.

So the rules have gotten tighter and tighter, but whether those actually rise to the level of conflict of interest is not automatic. It depends on the amount and what the relationship is to what you're actually doing.

Transparency is the key. When in doubt, disclose and let the lawyers and the regulators decide whether it is something that requires further efforts. And here, if there is a conflict of interest, some of it's handled by disclosure, some may require a conflict of interest plan as to actually how to deal with the conflict of interest, and in some cases you may not — you may have certain prohibitions on what you can actually do. That is, if you're receiving a large amount of direct salary, you may not be allowed to serve as the primary investigator on a project for that company, as an example.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher in 2013 at the North Carolina Translational & Clinical Sciences Institute.

The North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute is the integrated home of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is supported through the NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) grant ULTR000083.

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