Handbook for Research
Section IV: Conflict of Interest
The Mount Sinai Medical Center policy on Conflict of Interest addresses situations in which trustees, employees, faculty and members of the voluntary staff or the institution itself have a relationship with a company or outside organization that does business with Mount Sinai, i.e., provides goods or services to the institution; the Business Conflict of Interest Policy provides for the disclosure of such relationships and is designed to ensure that these conflicts do not interfere with or influence Mount Sinai's decisions. The School’s policy on Conflict of Interest in Researchaddresses situations in which an Investigator/Covered Person has a financial interest that could directly and significantly affect the approval, design, conduct, monitoring or reporting of a research study; guidelines both for research involving human subjects and for research that does not involve human subjects are provided.
There are many conflict of interest issues that have specific relevance to researchers. Such issues frequently arise in non-commercial situations that have the potential to impair the scientist's judgment. The fairness of researchers is put to a test by the review of journal articles and grant applications from competitors or friends. The peer review system, by its very nature, requires that scientists whose expertise is usually associated with strong convictions and familiarity with other practitioners of the field express opinions than can affect the careers of others. Reviewers must thus engage in conscientious self-examination, maintain appropriate detachment and confidentiality, and decline certain review tasks. It is also important for mentors to discuss such situations with trainees and to provide a model for ethical behavior.
Acting as paid consultants for or receiving research support from a commercial company may constitute conflict of interest for a scientist involved in clinical research on a drug produced or marketed by that company. Researchers whose work may lead to an invention should also consider such issues, and familiarize themselves with the institutional Policies on Intellectual Property: Ownership and Commercial Development (Faculty Handbook). If a patent application is filed, further research on it by the inventor may entail conflict of interest thus necessitating rigorous measures such as careful "blinding" of data or review by an independent committee to avoid bias.