As a scientific advisory board member and reviewer for the Lung Cancer Research Foundation (“LCRF”), please review the following statements regarding conflicts of interest and confidentiality.
1. Conflicts of Interest
Scientific advisory board members and other individuals (“Reviewers”) involved in any LCRF scientific review process must unequivocally avoid both real conflicts of interest and/or the appearance of conflicts of interest (perceived conflicts of interest). Such conflicts exist when a Reviewer can be viewed as being in a position to gain or lose personally, professionally, or financially from an application under consideration. In instances where such conflict arises, Reviewers must immediately bring the matter to the attention of LCRF’s grant program staff or the chair of the LCRF scientific advisory board and recuse themselves from the review process.
LCRF categorizes conflicts of interest into three broad categories:
- The reviewer has a relationship (personal or professional) with the applicant, the applicant’s mentor, or any individual involved in the application;
- The reviewer has a relationship with the applicant’s institution (as an employee, officer, director, or trustee); and/or
- The reviewer has any financial or other interest in the application.
A. Real Conflict of Interest.
Real conflict of interest means a reviewer, close relative, or professional associate of the reviewer has a financial or other interest in an application that is known to the reviewer and is likely to bias the reviewer’s evaluation of that application. Interest in an organization includes ownership of stock in or being a consultant to a for-profit organization. A reviewer has a real conflict of interest if he/she or a close relative of the reviewer: (i) has received or could receive a direct financial benefit of any amount deriving from an application under review; (ii) has received or could receive a financial benefit from the applicant or the applicant’s institution in the form of honoraria, fees, stock or other financial benefit; or (iii) has any other interest in the application that is likely to bias the reviewer’s evaluation of that application.
Regardless of the level of financial involvement or other interest, if the reviewer feels unable to provide objective advice, he/she must recuse him/herself from the review of the application.
B. Perceived Conflict of Interest.
A perceived conflict of interest may exist when a reviewer or close relative of the reviewer has a financial or other interest in an application that is known to the reviewer and would cause a reasonable person to question the reviewer’s impartiality if he or she were to participate in the review. In such instances, LCRF staff will consult with the SAB chair(s) to evaluate the appearance of a conflict of interest and determine whether the interest would likely bias the reviewer’s evaluation of the application. Where there is an appearance of conflict of interest but not sufficient grounds for disqualifying the reviewer, the LCRF will note that there is no real conflict of interest and at the time of the review, no practical alternative exists for obtaining the necessary scientific advice from the reviewer with the apparent conflict.
C. Categories of Conflicts of Interest.
Reviewers should evaluate the following categories of potential conflicts of interest and determine whether any of these situations may exist and create a real or perceived conflict during their review of any given LCRF grant application:
- Employment. A reviewer is a salaried employee, whether full-time or part-time, of the applicant or applicant’s institution, or is negotiating for employment. LCRF may determine there is no real or perceived conflict of interest where the components of a large or multi-component organization are sufficiently independent to constitute, in effect, separate organizations, provided that the reviewer has no responsibilities at the institution that would significantly affect the other component.
- Financial Benefit. A reviewer has received or could receive any financial benefit in the form of honoraria, fees, stock or other means from the applicant or the applicant’s institution.
- Personal Relationships (Relatives). The applicant is a close relative such as a parent, spouse, sibling, son or daughter, or domestic partner of the reviewer.
- Professional Associates. The applicant or any other personnel named in the application is any colleague such as a scientific mentor or mentee, teacher or student with whom the reviewer is currently conducting research, serving as a reference, listed as an author on published research studies, or any other significant professional activities, or with whom the reviewer has conducted such activities within three years of the date of the review.
- Longstanding Disagreements. A reviewer has had longstanding personal, scientific, or other professional differences with an applicant.
The LCRF does NOT consider the following to be conflicts of interest:
- If an individual supplies a resource or service to an applicant and that resource or
service is freely available to anyone in the scientific community, neither the institution nor the individual supplying the resource is in conflict.
- Reviewers from institutions that are part of a multicenter network (e.g. accrual sites for a multicenter clinical trial) are not in conflict with other applications from other institutions in the network.
E. Procedures for Identifying and Declaring Conflicts of Interest.
- Prior to reviewing any applications, each reviewer must examine the list of applicants and institutions associated with the applications assigned to them and disclose any conflicts to LCRF’s grant program staff or the chair of the SAB.
- The names of persons who declared a conflict or potential for perceived conflict of interest, the nature of the conflict, actions taken to determine if a conflict exists, and the decision rendered in relation to the conflict shall be noted by the LCRF. Any necessary actions will be taken to protect the integrity of the review process.
In the course of reviewing applications for grants, individuals involved in the grant review and selection process may receive and be given access to Confidential Information concerning applicants and their research projects.
- Definition. “Confidential Information” means all written technical, business, and financial information relating to the applicants and the applicants’ research projects submitted to LCRF for consideration for a scientific grant. “Confidential Information” shall exclude information that is in the public domain during the course of the selection process.
- Use and Disclosure. Reviewers must not disclose to any person outside the LCRF any Confidential Information. Reviewers must utilize the Confidential Information only for the purpose of evaluating the grant application and for no other purpose. In addition, reviewers may not disclose any Confidential Information to any applicants about the review process nor may any scientific reviewers contact any applicant during the review process.
- Protection. Reviewers shall use a reasonable degree of care to prevent any unauthorized or inadvertent disclosure of Confidential Information.
- Destruction or Return. Reviewers must securely dispose of or return to LCRF any materials made available or supplied to the SAB and all copies and reproductions thereof once final selection of the grant recipient(s) is complete.
This document represents the entire agreement between you and LCRF regarding your obligations with respect to conflicts of interest and confidentiality. This agreement cannot be changed in any way unless you and LCRF agree to those changes in writing.