4.14 Conflict of Interest

Harvard medical students must abide by the Harvard Medical School (HMS) conflict of interest policies in all activities, including research toward a degree or research or projects that are part of a 5-year plan or Scholars in Medicine project. In particular, the project cannot be affected adversely by any contractual or other financial obligations of the principal investigator or mentor. Students should check with their Academic Society and/or Research Fellow when planning such activities to make sure they are in compliance with HMS policy.

Policy on Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest Related to the Pharmaceutical Industry and Undergraduate Medical Education

As stated in the Harvard Medical School Faculty of Medicine Policy on Conflicts of Interest and Commitment, collaborations with industry have resulted in “bringing new resources to the support of science and facilitating the translation of knowledge from the laboratory to the bedside.” As the HMS Policy also states, however, these relationships can create conflicts, and the “[p]ublic trust in the enterprise of academic medicine and the legitimacy of its powerful role in society require a constant amenability to public scrutiny.” Conflicts of interest in medical education are becoming of increasing concern to our students, our faculty members and to the public.

Therefore, faculty and students must disclose any financial interests they may have in a pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical instrument/device company, or other business which owns or has a contractual relationship to the subject matter being reported or discussed in a presentation, lecture, tutorial, paper, or other teaching exercise or assignment. For example, faculty who have received research support or who have consulted for a pharmaceutical company and whose teaching includes a discussion of drugs developed by that company should disclose the association in advance. 

All faculty are required to disclose relevant financial interests in a lecture slide, the syllabus or during in class discussion. In all Pathways preclerkship courses, faculty who teach in any session are required to complete and submit a form stating whether or not he/she has a financial interest in a business that provides a health care product or service. This information is available to students upon request by emailing the Course Coordinator in the Office of Curriculum Services. Accordingly, each instructor must disclose whether or not any potential conflict exists and, if a potential conflict exists, the nature of the relationship. 

Faculty members and students who have any questions about what to disclose may contact Gretchen Brodnicki, Dean for Faculty and Research Integrity (gretchen_brodnicki@hms.harvard.edu or 617-432-2496) or the Office for Academic and Research Integrity.

Policy on Sponsorship, Gifts, Meals, and Access of Pharmaceutical Representatives to the HMS Campus

Sales and marketing representatives of pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, and medical supply companies are not permitted to visit or interact with medical or dental students on the HMS campus, and pharmaceutical, medical device or medical supply company sponsorship of student events is strictly prohibited. Medical and dental students may not accept any gifts from pharmaceutical, medical device or medical supply companies, and these companies may not provide meals or refreshments for any student function.

Last updated 8/4/16