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P209: Disclosure of External Interests & Commitments Policy

Issued by:
President's Office
Updated:
October 2020

Policy

Stony Brook University is committed to the principles of academic freedom, free inquiry, and the open exchange of knowledge. These principles are the bedrock of scholarship and research. The University supports and encourages individuals to pursue and engage in external activities that promote the University's mission, contribute to professional fields, and enhance professional skills. In return, individuals are expected to fulfill their University obligations first and foremost, commensurate with their appointment requirements.

Individuals also have an obligation to avoid conflicts of interest and commitment (defined below) when carrying out their external and University education, research, scholarship, or service responsibilities. All external relationships - both domestic and international - should be transparent and must be disclosed in a manner that is consistent with applicable requirements, including federal and state laws/regulations/agency guidance, as well as Stony Brook's own policies and procedures. Such disclosures must include activities that occur over summer/winter break months. The following expectations and requirements are in place to help avoid pitfalls:

  • Who Must Disclose: The following individuals are required to disclose external interests and commitments:
    • Salaried faculty
    • Researchers (salaried and non-salaried)
    • Executive/senior leadership
    • Other personnel who advise on, negotiate or approve, on behalf of the University, transactions, arrangements or agreements with external parties involving the use of University resources.
  • What to Disclose: The following is a non-exhaustive list of the types of external interests and commitments of individuals and their immediate family members, whether located in the U.S. or outside of the U.S., that must be disclosed:
    • External paid and unpaid positions/obligations at institutions other than Stony Brook, including: current relationships, relationships that occurred during the previous 12 months, and any anticipated future relationships, whether located in the U.S. or outside of the U.S.
    • External resources/support provided by entities other than Stony Brook or Research Foundation for SUNY (e.g.: payments or remunerations, provision of or support for laboratory or other facilities, gifts, equity holdings or ownership, and sponsored travel).
    • Relationship with an external organization (e.g.: research, consulting, sponsored travel, equity in external company, etc.).
    • Intellectual property rights and interests.
  • How to Disclose - Required Annual Disclosure Certification:
    • All who must disclose (as described above) are required to complete the Annual Disclosure Certification through the myResearch portal. This Annual Disclosure Certification is separate from the annual NYS Financial Disclosure Statement that is submitted to the NYS Joint Commission on Public Ethics by filers.
    • Completed Annual Disclosure Certifications must be modified to account for new or anticipated external interests and/or commitments within 30 days of acquiring knowledge of such external interests and/or commitments.
  • When to Disclose:
    • The annual filing period is May 1 to May 31, and modifications must be made as necessary year-round.

Additional Requirements for Research

In addition to the requirements outlined above, all researchers must adhere to the additional requirements set forth below:

  • Conducting Research:
    • No new research activity may commence until the Designated Institutional Official (DIO) (discussed below) completes their review of the required Annual Disclosure Certification.
    • Upon review, if it is determined that a management plan is necessary, such plans must be agreed to before research activities may start or continue.
  • Training: Complete conflict of interest training as follows:
    • Prior to engaging in research activities related to any grant and at least every four years.
    • Immediately under these designated circumstances:
      • University policies change in a manner that affects training requirements.
      • An individual subject to this subsection is new to the University.
      • University finds a person who is subject to this section to be noncompliant with this policy or a management plan.
  • Compliance:

The Vice President for Research will appoint a Designated Institutional Official (DIO) to administer this policy for research activities. The role of the DIO includes:

  • Developing/supporting standard operating procedures for this policy (which includes but is not limited to: defining key terms, addressing methods and timing for disclosing interests and commitments, review processes, and appeal processes) and ensuring that the standard operating procedures meet all required specifications in 42 C.F.R. § 50.604-.606;
  • Soliciting and reviewing required Annual Disclosure Certifications from each researcher;
  • Providing guidelines to identify conflicting interests and commitments;
  • Determining whether a conflict exists;
  • Developing management plans that specify the actions that have been, and shall be, taken to manage a financial conflict of interest or conflict of commitment and monitoring compliance with such plans; &
  • Reporting findings/reviews to federal agencies (as required by federal regulation).

The Vice President for Research will also maintain records of all researcher certifications and the University's review of, and response to, any disclosures, and all actions under the University's policy or retrospective review (in the case of PHS/NIH funds) for at least three years from the date of submission of the final expenditures report or, in the case of PHS/NIH, from other dates specified in 42 C.F.R. § 50.604 (i), 45 C.F.R. § 75.361, 45 C.F.R. § 92.4 (i), and 48 C.F.R. Part 4, Subpart 4.7, for different situations (where applicable).

Definitions

Conflict of Commitment: A potential conflict of commitment exists when an individual's (and/or their Immediate Family Member(s)) external relationships or activities have the possibility (either in actuality or in appearance) of interfering or competing with the University's educational, research or service missions, or with that individual's ability or willingness to perform the full range of responsibilities associated with their position.

Conflict of Interest: When a person is or may be in a position to influence activities or decisions in the conduct of externally and applicable internally supported activities in ways that could lead to personal financial gain or give an improper advantage to third parties in their dealings with the University. Conflicts of Interest may also arise when an individual (and/or their Immediate Family Member(s)) have outside obligations of any kind that are in substantial conflict with their University responsibilities or the public interest.

Executive/senior leadership: Includes, but is not limited to, all: vice presidents, provosts, deans, chiefs, etc.

Immediate Family Member: Includes spouse, domestic or civil union partner and dependent children.

Research Activities: Defined as follows:

  • Externally supported activities for University programs, projects, activities and services, solicited and unsolicited, including gifts and donations specifically made to support the activities of identified individuals;
  • Internally supported activities, where support is granted following formal application to a University program in response to a request for proposals (e.g., Targeted Research Opportunity 'TRO' Grants); &
  • Internally supported research activities for the benefit of an external entity (e.g., non-funded research projects where deliverables such as reports/data are provided to an external entity).

Researchers: For the purposes of this policy, researchers are defined as:

  • Investigators - University faculty, staff or students who are responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research activities (the following are not included: Individuals who do not make independent decisions regarding the design, conduct, or reporting of the activity in question, and only work on or are engaged in the activity (for example, in most cases research assistants, undergraduates and secretaries will not be considered responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of activities of a research project));
  • Any University faculty who are identified in a budget or who are acting as a consultant or collaborator in any and all research activities;
  • University faculty, staff or graduate students who are named as study personnel on any externally funded research studies involving human subjects; &
  • All members of the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), Radioactive Drug Research Committee (RDRC), and Stem Cell Committee.

Salaried Faculty: Any faculty member receiving compensation from the University, excluding: a) part-time lecturers/adjuncts who are not conducting research; and b) clinical faculty who are not conducting research.

Inquiries

For information related to this policy, please contact:

Office of Vice President for Research (OVPR)
5th Floor, Frank Melville Jr. Memorial Library
Phone: (631) 632-7932
Website: https://research.stonybrook.edu/offices

Relevant Standards, Codes, Rules, Regulations, Statutes, Policies, and Trainings


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University Policy Manual @ Stony Brook University