State of MD Ethics Law and COI Exemptions
All UMSOM faculty are State of Maryland employees and are subject to State of Maryland Public Ethics Law. Amongst other things, the MD ethics law prohibits State of Maryland employees from:
- Participating in a matter if he or a close relative has an economic interest in the matter, if the matter involves a business entity in which the employee has a direct financial interest or if the employee or their close relative is an officer, director, or trustee in the business entity
- Being employed by or having a financial interest in an entity that is negotiating or has entered a contract with UMB
Although the law prohibits these potential conflicts, the State of Maryland also encourages public universities to promote the economic development of the State, increase their financial resources through arrangements with the private sector, including collaborative research and development, commercial application of institution-owned intellectual property, and provision of technical assistance to the business community. Thus, it is possible for UMSOM faculty to obtain an exemption from these sections of the law when there will be a clear benefit to these activities and any potential conflicts can be managed.
Common circumstances that may require COI exemptions include: consulting agreements, equity ownership in private companies by University employees, holding office or board membership in companies, and dual employment by the University and private business, particularly when investigators also receive sponsored research funds from those same private companies.
Procedures for Requesting a COI Exemption
UMB Policy III-1.11(A) outlines the procedures for requesting a COI Exemption. If you believe that you have an external relationship that may require an exemption, please reach out to Joni Prasad (Conflict of Interest Officer, UMSOM) or Alison Watkins (Conflict of Interest Officer, UMB) to discuss further and confirm.
COI Exemption requests should be made by filling out the Exemption Request Form. Approval is required by the faculty member's division chief, Chair, SOM Conflict of Interest Officer, Dean of the School of Medicine, and the Conflict of Interest Officer for UMB. Final exemptions can only be granted with the approval of the President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
If approved, exemptions will include a plan to manage any conflict of interest concerns. Management plans may include many provisions, including:
- public disclosure of the conflict, especially in presentations and publications
- disclosure of the conflict to research participants if human subjects are involved in the research
- appointment of an independent monitor or research oversight committee
- change of personnel or personnel roles
- reduction or elimination of the financial interest
- modification of the research plan
Following approval of the exemption and management plan, annual reports will be required. Additionally, updated forms must be filed whenever there is a material change in the relationship, and a terminal report is required when the relationship is ended.