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Institutional Review Board

Conflict of Interest in Human Subjects Research


Conflicts of interest in human subjects research deserve special scrutiny because of their potential to affect the rights and welfare of human subjects. Such conflicts commonly arise when principal investigators or co-investigators conduct research that is sponsored by, or involves a product of, an entity with which they have an external relationship.


Principal investigators (PIs) and co-investigators on a human subjects research application submitted to the JHSPH IRB must inform the IRB through the PHIRST application about any conflict of interest that may affect the study. The conflicted individual must disclose his or her conflict of interest at Once the conflict of interest is received, the COI Committee will make a determination as to whether the proposed activity can proceed, and if so, how to manage the conflict.


Management conditions required for financial conflicts in human subjects research may include:

In some cases, the Committee may decide that a conflict cannot be managed and that the conflicted person may not be involved in the proposed research activity. For example, individuals with significant financial interests (more than $5,000) associated with a human subjects research project are generally prohibited from engaging in the research.


The COI Committee will send its management recommendations to the conflicted individual with a copy to the IRB. The conflict will be presented to the IRB at a convened meeting. The IRB can decide whether to:

A study may not go forward without IRB approval of the recommended COI management plan. The IRB will inform the PI and the COI Committee of its decision.


Faculty who need guidance as to whether a potential conflict of interest exists in their human subjects research project should contact the Research Compliance Officer at 410-502-0433 or