Universities Should Implement AAU Recommendations on Conflicts of Interest|
Statement of Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Science In the Public Interest
The report by the American Association of Universities (AAU) is an important contribution to the growing movement to reduce or disclose conflicts of interest in the scientific and medical community. Importantly, the AAU calls on researchers to disclose to the public all possible conflicts of interest and to eliminate conflicts in studies involving human subjects.
The more that universities receive funding from industry to advance or apply research the more important it is to the public interest that ties between academia and industry be disclosed. Those arrangements grants, stock ownership and other financial ties could undermine the integrity of scientific research and public trust in research and educational institutions.
Universities and individual researchers should quickly implement the AAUs recommendations. They should identify conflicts of interest, disclose them to the public, and ban the most egregious relationships. Time will tell whether the AAUs sensible report triggers improvements or simply gathers dust on deans bookshelves.