Conflicts of Interest in Research Update

Published November 27, 2013

As part of the university’s conflict of interest policy, we are pleased to announce the new UB Conflict of Interest in Research Committee (CIRC), established in compliance with federal regulations in the revised UB Investigator Conflict of Interest policy

A conflict of interest in research exists when an investigator has a significant financial interest or a significant obligation to another organization that could potentially create bias in the reporting of their research results.

The CIRC is comprised of representatives from each of the twelve UB schools and colleges, as well as the Research Institute on Addictions, recommended by their units and appointed by the Vice President for Research and Economic Development. The CIRC is chaired by Dr. Michael Detty, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences.             

A conflict of interest in research exists when an investigator has a significant financial interest or a significant obligation to another organization that could potentially create bias in the reporting of their research results.  A common example is an investigator who is serving as a paid consultant to a company that is also sponsoring the investigator’s research study. To address the conflict, CIRC typically develops a conflict-of-interest management plan. At a minimum, the management plan requires the investigator to make full disclosure of their relationships with a research sponsor in any presentations or publications, as well as to their colleagues in the study and on the consent form signed by research participants.  CIRC typically receives a draft management plan prepared by the conflict of interest reviewer in the appropriate dean’s office in collaboration with the investigator.  This step assures that the investigator’s input is sought from the outset by someone familiar with the investigator’s particular research culture.

For human research studies, CIRC’s conflict of interest management plan is sent to the responsible human subjects review board (IRB).   The IRB must review and approve the COI management plan before the plan is incorporated into the research study.  If the study is a typical clinical trial involving greater than minimal risk to the research subject, then the CIRC management plan must be approved by the convened IRB board.   This is a new requirement of our IRBs’ accrediting body, the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs.

Other members of the CIRC include: William McDonnell, Associate Dean, Architecture and Planning; Anne Meyer, Associate Dean for Research, Dental Medicine; Xiufeng Liu, Associate Dean for Research, Graduate School of Education; Albert Titus, Chair, Biomedical & Electrical Engineering, Engineering and Applied Sciences; Lynn Mather, Professor, Law; William Kross, Associate Dean for Research, Management; Mulchand Patel, Associate Dean for Research, Medicine and Biomedical Sciences;  Davina Porock, Associate Dean for Research, Nursing; Joseph Balthasar, Associate Dean for Research, Pharmaceutical Sciences; John Wilson, Professor, Public Health and Health Professions; Catherine Dulmus, Associate Dean for Research, Social Work; and Kenneth Leonard, Director, Research Institute on Addictions.  COi Officer Ed Zablocki provides administrative support to CIRC.

Any questions about these changes in the conflict of interest in research process may be addressed to Mr. Zablocki via email at Zablocki@buffalo.edu  or by calling 645-0316.