SKERI Conflict of Interest Policy

Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute Conflict of Interest Policy

Because it is subject to constant public review and is dependent upon public and private support, it is critical that SKERI, its employees, members of the Board of Directors, and affiliate research members including subcontractors, sub-grantees, and collaborators, (whether commercial or non-commercial organizations) refrain from conduct which is or may appear to be unethical or to involve a conflict of interest. In response to this concern, the following guidelines are therefore adopted.

The Executive Director is responsible for determining whether or not a conflict of interest exists, and what conditions or restrictions, if any, should be imposed by SKERI to manage, reduce or eliminate such conflict of interest. A conflict of interest exists when the Executive Director reasonably determines that a significant financial interest (defined below) could directly and significantly affect the design, conduct, or reporting of funded research or educational activities.

If SKERI finds that it is unable to satisfactorily manage a conflict of interest regarding National Science Foundation (NSF), Health and Human Services (HHS), or Public Health Services (PHS) funding, said conflict of interest will be disclosed in writing, and on the Web to the appropriate government agency.  This is required by Federal regulation.  

It is the responsibility of any person who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research or educational activities funded or proposed by NSF, HHS, or PHS to become familiar with this Institute’s Policy, as well as the government regulation. Each Investigator must complete Financial Conflict of Interest training prior to engaging in research and at least every four years or within 30 days of material changes to this policy or a finding of noncompliance with either this policy. Therefore all employees involved in Public Health Service funding will be required to take a prescribed course on Federal Conflict of Interest. Records of all financial disclosures and all actions taken by this SKERI with respect to each conflicting interest shall be maintained for three years from the date of submission of the final expenditures report of the project involved.

1. Financial Gain

No employee, member of the Board of Directors, or affiliate research member shall derive any direct or indirect financial benefit beyond the compensation and benefits provided by SKERI from SKERI research grants, contracts, gifts, or endowment funds, or received under terms of the Invention Policy. This does not, of course, prohibit such a person from obtaining the intangible benefits associated with SKERI and the research project such as the publication of articles or books based upon such research or the increase in professional prestige. In addition, any significant financial interest that would reasonably appear to be affected by the research and educational activities funded or proposed for funding by a government agency, or is in entities whose financial interest would reasonably appear to be affected by the research shall be disclosed to the Executive Director of this Institute.

2. Use of Facilities

SKERI’s buildings, offices, equipment, personnel, and facilities are resources devoted to SKERI's research activity. Accordingly, none shall be used in pursuit of activities not related to SKERI business. Exceptions can be granted based upon unusual need and upon adequate compensation to SKERI for such use. All such exceptions require prior approval of the Executive Director.

3. Nepotism

One family member working for and reporting to another family member presents the potential for a conflict of interest and may create tensions with other employees. All such situations, whether the reporting relationship is direct or indirect, should be reported to the Executive Director.

4. Use of Name

SKERI prohibits the use by employees, or others, of its name facilities, letterheads, mailing addresses, telephones, and so forth as part of or in connection with the endorsement, advertisement, or recommendation of services or products.

5. Report

SKERI employees, members of the Board of Directors, and affiliate research members will sign annually and submit during January of each year a statement of outside activities to the Executive Director for review and action. Additionally, each Investigator who is participating in the PHS-funded research is required to submit an updated disclosure of significant financial interests within thirty days of them or their family discovering or acquiring (e.g., through purchase, marriage, or inheritance) a new Significant Financial Interest that reasonably appears to be related to the Investigator’s Institutional Responsibilities. 

6. Definition of Significant Financial Interest: 

For the purpose of Section 5 above, a Significant Financial Interest includes the following: 

a.) With regard to a publicly traded Entity, a Significant Financial Interest exists if the value of any remuneration received from such Entity in the 12 months preceding the disclosure and the value of any equity interest in the Entity as of the date of disclosure, when aggregated, exceeds $5,000. Remuneration includes salary and payment for services (e.g. consulting fees, honoraria, paid authorship); equity interest includes any stock, stock option, or other ownership interest, as determined through reference to public prices or other reasonable measures of fair market value. 

b.) With regard to a non-publicly traded Entity, a Significant Financial Interest exists if the value of any remuneration received from the Entity in the 12 months preceding the disclosure, when aggregated, exceeds $5,000 or is an equity interest of any value during the 12 month period preceding the date of disclosure. 

c.) Income related to intellectual property rights and interests (e.g. patents, copyrights) upon receipt of income by the Investigator related to such rights and interests.

Rev. 20140408