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Conflict of Interest

About Conflict of Interest

Conflict of Interest Office

The Conflict of Interest Office serves in partnership with researchers, educators, administrators and patient care providers to maintain an environment of quality and integrity in which to advance biomedical research and patient care.

Our primary functions are to identify and manage conflicts of interest (COI), provide training and education to increase knowledge and awareness about COI and serve as a resource to those in the MUSC community for policies and procedures relating to COI.

Historical Context

In 1980, Congress passed the Bayh-Dole Act which allowed universities to hold patent rights for discoveries made at their institutions that were funded by federal research dollars.  The Bayh-Dole Act allows for the commercialization of biomedical treatments and technologies.  The act's design encouraged universities to not only engage in research which would result in better treatments reaching Americans, it created an opportunity for universities to partner with private industry to move the discoveries to the commercial sector more quickly.

In response to the vision of a more entrepreneurial approach to improving health care outcomes the NIH developed various grant mechanisms in 1982 referred to as SBIR “Small Business Innovation Research” and later the STTR “Small Business Technology Transfer”.

MUSC took steps to strengthen the university’s research programs by establishing the Foundation for Research Development in 1998.  The FRD is a not for profit research foundation that interfaces with industry in the areas of technology transfer and industry sponsored research.  Since its inception the FRD has submitted numerous patent applications and has been issued a number of US patents. 

The culmination of these events has resulted in academic researchers and their institutions partnering in a variety of ways with private industry.  Examples include licensing agreements with researchers and/or university owned patents, equity ownership in companies by researchers and/or universities, consultancies for university researchers, and the formation of new companies in which the university or researcher may have a stake.

As relationships between private industry, researchers and their institutions have become increasingly more complex, MUSC recognizes that the relationships need oversight.  It is important to note that conflicts arise in most organizations and the existence of relationships does not imply any wrong doing. Rather by recognizing conflicts we can seek to reduce, eliminate, or manage conflicts so that they do not compromise the objectivity of biomedical research and patient care.

The Future

Regulations and policies surrounding COI periodically change in order to improve management outcomes.  This website will contain the most up to date information to assist the MUSC community in understanding COI.


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