Conflict of Interest
Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) supports the general principle that promising research observations should be converted into practical applications in a timely manner for the common good. To this end, OHSU encourages employees to: patent and license inventions arising from their research, establish partnerships with industry with the intention of marketing novel technologies, apply for industry sponsored research funds and serve as consultants for industry. Involvement in commercial activities carries many advantages, including the practical application of new technologies, the receipt of royalty income for the employee and the University, and the provision of an additional source of research funding. Contemporary attitudes are best captured by the fact that the Federal government has mandated that universities seek to commercialize the results of federally supported research for the public good (Bayh-Dole Act).
The involvement of employees with commercial ventures, however, carries with it the potential for diverting the University and its employees from their primary mission, which is: education, research and service. Conflicts of interest can arise when the interests of the commercial venture differ from the interests and primary obligations of the University and its employees, or when the commercial venture consumes an undue share of employee time.
The rationale for establishing policies to manage conflict of interest in research is to protect employees and the University from potential accusations of malfeasance. These policies will use the technique of "disclosure" to apportion, between the University and an outside institution, the important considerations of time spent and compensation received. The latter decision must be made within the context of the principle of "Academic Freedom."