General Research-Related Conflict of Interest


Rev. 9/10

  1. General
  2. Laboratory Reviewing Official
  3. Conflict of Interest Advisory Committee



Several specific concerns and policy provisions pertain to all research project investigators involved in proposing, conducting, and/or reporting Laboratory research activities. When researchers participate in a substantive way in the scientific development, execution, and/or reporting of a project, they must avoid real or apparent conflict-of-interest (COI) situations. A real or apparent COI situation may occur in a research program when there is a less than clear and demonstrable separation between the individual researcher's program interests and work efforts and the individual's personal economic or business interests. Generally, such researchers and the Laboratory are guided by seven principles:

  1. Traditional COI situations should be avoided. These exist when a researcher may have the opportunity to influence Laboratory business decisions or research results in ways that could lead to personal gain or could advantage personal business interests.
  2. The proposed research project should be appropriate to and consistent with the mission of the Laboratory.
  3. The research and teaching environment of the Laboratory must be kept open.
  4. Freedom to publish and disseminate research results must be preserved.
  5. The highest ethical standards of scientific conduct and intellectual honesty must be ensured.
  6. Any patent-rights issues should be in compliance with DOE and University requirements.
  7. Laboratory facilities and resources (supplies, equipment, facilities, staff time) must be appropriately used, with costs charged to the project sponsor.


When there is convergence of a researcher’s private interests with his or her research interests, such that an independent observer might reasonably question whether the researcher’s Laboratory actions or decisions are improperly influenced by his or her personal considerations, the conflicts of interest (or perceptions of conflicts) must be addressed. Policy requires a reviewing official to determine from the facts of each potential COI matter whether any reported personal interest would reasonably appear to be directly and significantly affected by the Laboratory research program and what steps should be taken to manage or eliminate the conflict. For Laboratory research programs, the reviewing official is the Deputy Director (DD). The DD may utilize the Laboratory’s Conflict of Interest Advisory Committee (COIAC) to perform independent substantive review of COI cases and to make recommendations to the DD and Laboratory management for managing, reducing, or eliminating COI issues in such matters.


The Director or DD may appoint and charter a COIAC composed of experienced, knowledgeable, independent people appropriate for the case under review. COIAC members are from scientific or engineering divisions. The Laboratory Counsel, the Laboratory Research and Institutional Integrity Officer, and the Head of the Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Management Department also act as ex officio COIAC members. The COIAC reviews the disclosure statement details and all relevant features of the research program, and recommends to the DD whether the project, research contract, science grant, Laboratory gift, or Cooperative Research and Development Agreement should be accepted, and any conditions or modifications that may be needed. Examples of conditions that may be imposed to mitigate COI concerns include public disclosure of private economic interests, independent monitoring and program oversight, research project plan changes, personnel reassignments, divestiture of conflicting financial interests, or severance of any relationships creating the real or apparent conflicts.

Printed . The official or current version is located in the online LBNL Requirements and Policies Manual.
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