Conflict of interest: The importance of potential

Science and Engineering Ethics 8 (3):393-396 (2002)
Abstract
The UK Medical Research Council (MRC) takes the issue of conflict of interest very seriously. The overall aim is to preserve a climate in which personal and organisational innovation can flourish while ensuring that potential conflicts are disclosed and identified and conflicts are either avoided or managed with integrity. The approach needs to encompass the MRC’s various responsibilities and the levels at which conflicts might arise: MRC staff (scientists and administrators); the governing Council; research Boards and committees; external peer-reviewers; and applicants for funding. To achieve its goals, the MRC has issued practical guidance on various aspects of conflict of interest. For the future, the MRC has identified the continuing commercialisation of science and the increasing involvement of lay people in scientific decision-making as special challenges in this area.
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