USC Office of Compliance

Conflict of Interest in Research

Conflict of Interest in Research


An individual conflict of interest related to research arises when financial or other personal considerations compromise, or have the appearance of compromising, an individual’s professional judgment in proposing, conducting, supervising or reporting research.  University researchers (faculty, staff and students) have an obligation to disclose outside activities when they maintain an interest (equity interest, management role or consulting income in excess of $5,000 per year) in a sponsor, or in an outside entity whose product (drug, device, equipment, supplies, etc.) is under study, regardless of the sponsor.

Researchers who are proposing or have received HHS (including NIH, CDC, HRSA, and AHRQ) support must also make an annual disclosure of all financial interests related to their institutional responsibilities to USC, regardless of whether any of these interests give rise to a conflict of interest related to their research.  The annual disclosure must be completed before a proposal can be submitted to HHS, and any identified conflicts must be managed before an account can be established.

In addition, all HHS investigators must complete training on conflicts of interest once every four years.  For on-line training, please click on the link to COI training, and then click the link under “Online COI Training” to complete the online Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) course on conflict of interest.  For live training sessions, please click on the link to COI training, and then click on the links under “Live COI Training” to view available live sessions on both the UPC and HSC campuses.

The university closely scrutinizes investigator-held equity interests, management roles and all outside interests where the research involves human subjects and/or students. In these circumstances, the investigator must present compelling reasons for why research should be allowed to proceed at USC.