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Corporation Releases Univ-Wide Conflict of Interest Policies

By Xi Yu, Crimson Staff Writer

For the first time in Harvard history, the Harvard Corporation has adopted a conflict of interest policy to address the financial interests of faculty members on a University-wide basis, officials announced today.

Vice Provost David Korn led the committee that drafted the initial set of guidelines by which all schools across campus will be required to develop their own set of regulations for preventing issues of financial conflicts of interest. Each school's own policy must be at least as rigorous as the ones provided by the Corporation, the University's top governing board.

"The trick is to be able to have a robust system for affording faculty opportunities to engage with the commercial world and at the same time not threaten in any way their own fundamental integrity or that of Harvard," Korn told HarvardScience.

The framework principles of the new policy include a robust system for reporting financial interests of faculty members to ensure that their research and academic activities are not compromised by industrial influences.

Each school will be required to maintain written record of the processes for reporting and evaluating financial interests, as well as sanctions for failure to comply with the rules.

The University's announcement coincides with the Harvard Medical School's release of a report providing recommendations to its existing conflict of interest policy, which has been in effect for 20 years. The Medical School's recommendations will be implemented on a rolling basis starting January 2011.

—Staff writer Xi Yu can be reached at xyu@college.harvard.edu.

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