The efforts of MSSM and other academic institutions to address financial conflicts of interest in research may best be appreciated within a historical context.
Intensive collaboration between academic institutions and industry was fostered during World War II through the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), a Federal entity created to stimulate research supporting allied military efforts. Despite OSRD's success in bringing together the Federal government, universities and industry, relationships did not thrive after the war because academic institutions were prohibited from taking ownership of discoveries made with federally-funded research dollars.
It was not until passage of the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980 that collaborations between universities and industry skyrocketed. Bayh-Dole created an unprecedented opportunity for academic institutions to benefit financially from inventions deriving from federally funded research projects. As explained by the NIH: "The Bayh-Dole Act encourages researchers to patent and market their inventions by guaranteeing patent rights. This Act automatically grants first rights to a patent for an invention fully or partially funded by a Federal agency to the awardee organization...This landmark legislation is important because it gives nonprofit organizations and small business firms the right to elect to retain title to inventions. The objectives are to: use the patent system to promote utilization of inventions arising from Federally supported research..." 1
Although the Bayh-Dole Act and early guidelines did not address the issue of conflicts of interest, with time the risks associated with academic-industry collaboration became increasingly clear. Regulations and guidelines are now in place to ensure that conflicts of interest are reported, and either eliminated or managed, for all federally funded research projects. For more information about the regulations and specific agency guidelines, please refer to the Regulatory Environment subsection. For specific requirements at MSSM, refer to our Policy on Financial Conflicts of Interest in Research.
Conflict of Interest Helpline
Office of the Dean
One Gustave L. Levy Place
New York, NY 10029