Conflict of Interest

Faculty and non-faculty EHRA staff are encouraged to engage in outside relationships with commercial companies, the nonprofit sector, and federal and state governments if the activities are consistent with the mission of the University. Such partnerships in support of the University’s three-fold mission of teaching, research, and service are encouraged when they produce mutual benefits to participants as well as benefits to society. Facilitating the transfer of technology to improve the health and productivity of society is an important goal of cooperative university-industry and faculty-industry relationships.  

The number and complexity of relationships between universities and public and private organizations have grown substantially in recent years, which have increased the concern about conflicts of interest and commitment. All members of the University community are expected to avoid conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment that have the potential to compromise their objectivity in carrying out their institutional responsibilities.

The purpose of UNC Charlotte’s Policy on Conflicts of Interest and Commitment is to provide guidelines for those relationships that will help to ensure academic integrity and ensure compliance with federal and state requirements.

What is Conflict of Interest?

The term “Conflict of Interest” refers to situations in which financial or other personal considerations may directly and significantly affect, or have the appearance of directly and significantly affecting, a person’s judgment in exercising their University responsibilities.  Such situations do not necessarily imply wrong-doing or inappropriate activities.  However, it is important that these situations are disclosed and appropriately managed.

What is Conflict of Commitment?

The term “Conflict of Commitment” relates to the distribution of effort between one’s University appointment and one’s outside activities. The latter may include professionally related activities such as involvement with professional societies, participation on review panels, and external professional activities for pay. These activities often promote professional development.

To whom does this apply?

UNC Charlotte affiliated personnel

University Policy 101.24, Conflicts of Interest and Commitment, applies to:

  • All full-time, part-time and adjunct members of the faculty
  • All non-faculty EHRA staff
  • Designated SHRA staff (see COI Policy for details)
  • Research personnel involved in the design, conduct, or reporting of a funded research project, contract, sub-contract, or other agreement.  

Disclosures must include the Financial Interests of immediate family members (i.e., spouse and dependent children).

Individuals responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of a Public Health Service (PHS) funded research project are also required to disclose sponsored travel and paid authorships.

Subrecipients and Independent Contractors

Individuals meeting the definition of Investigator (i.e. responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of a funded research project) may include non-university personnel, such as subcontractor employees, collaborators, or consultants/independent contractors.  If the project is NSF or PHS funded and the subrecipient’s home institution does not have a compliant COI Policy, then that subrecipient must agree in writing to comply with the UNC Charlotte COI Policy.  Independent Contractors  that meet the definition of Investigator are always subject to UNC Charlotte’s COI Policy.

Note: Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) grants are excluded from the PHS COI regulations.  However, Phases II & III are not excluded from the PHS COI regulations.

What should be reported?

  • Publicly Traded Companies
    • Ownership of stock, options, etc. from any entity during the preceding 12 months, for you and your family members that appears to be related to your institutional responsibilities.
    • Note: Investments in which you do not directly control investment decisions, such as mutual funds or retirement accounts, do not need to be disclosed.
  • Privately Held or Nonprofit Companies
    • Any ownership or equity interest from any entity whose stock is not publicly traded, by you and your family members that appears to be related to your institutional responsibilities.
  • Other Financial Interests
    • Any secondary employment that is related to your professional responsibilities at the university.  Examples would include: private consulting, serving on a board of directors, speaking engagement, etc. Note: This reporting is in addition to the separate prior notification and approval requirements for SHRA and EHRA employees.
    • Royalties from textbooks or other scholarly works
  • Intellectual Property Rights
    • Intellectual Property (IP) in which you or your family members, have an existing or proposed licensing interest.
    • IP rights held (or in negotiation) for a pending or issued patent in which you or your family members are listed as inventors.
    • Excluding unlicensed IP held by UNC Charlotte.
  • External Roles
    • Paid or unpaid positions of influence, by you or your family members, with an entity in which the interests of the entity appear related to your institutional responsibilities (i.e. CEO, President, Scientific Advisory Board member, etc.).
  • Student Involvement or Supervisory Roles
    • Situations in which an activity could create a potential conflict of interest or commitment with respect to a faculty member’s mentorship responsibility.
    • Textbook or course material selection that results in receipt of royalties or other potential financial conflicts of interest.
  • Sponsored Travel (PHS only)
    • Any reimbursed or sponsored travel whose aggregate value paid or reimbursed by any single entity meets or exceeds $5,000 in the prior twelve months, except travel that is reimbursed or sponsored by a Federal, state, or local government agency, an institution of higher education, an academic teaching hospital, a medical center, or a research institute that is affiliated with an institution of higher education.

When should you disclose?

  • Annually (October 1st deadline)
  • At the time of research project proposal
  • At each new increment of research project funding
  • Upon assuming new University Employment Responsibilities
  • Within thirty (30) days of discovering or acquiring any financial interests for which disclosure is required
  • Prior to engaging in External Professional Activities for Pay (EPAP)

PLEASE NOTE:  Grant proposals may not be submitted and projects will not receive final approval until disclosure forms are received from ALL personnel listed on the project.  Funding will not be released until any potential conflicts have been reviewed and managed, and training has been completed. 

How do you submit your disclosure?

All disclosures should be made using the Activities, Interests, & Relationships (AIR) online system.

  • Annual disclosures: required from all EHRA faculty/staff, and should be made through the “COI Disclosure Annual” link in AIR.  Annual email reminders will be sent prior to the October 1st deadline.  (Note: all annual disclosures must be submitted via AIR starting in 2014.)
  • External Professional Activities for Pay and Travel disclosures: should be made through the appropriate links in AIR, prior to engaging in the outside activity.  These disclosures are self-initiated.
  • Project specific disclosures: A separate COI disclosure is required for each research project.  A unique link will be sent via email for each person on each project once the IPF is submitted.

Where do you go for training?

All faculty members and non-administrative personnel listed on funded research projects are required to take online training.  This training must be repeated every 4 years. 

Training can be accessed through the AIR online system by clicking here.

Resources & Contact Information

Disclosure and Training Resources

Policies and Guidelines

Public Health Service (PHS) 2011 Revised Regulation resources

Other useful information


Contact Information

Barry Rowan – Associate Director for Research Compliance and COI Manager, 704-687-8270