Conflict of Interest Policies & Guidelines

large unm letters in front of a buildingThe Conflict of Interest in Research program aims to protect the integrity, trust and respect of UNM, its academic community and its research activities. Our policies comply with federal regulations and apply to all UNM faculty, staff and students, as well as to non-UNM investigators engaged in UNM research.

The principal policy addressing Conflict of Interest in Research, UNM FHB Policy E:110, is designed to inform investigators of their disclosure responsibilities, provide a mechanism for making disclosures, and to facilitate effective identification and management of conflicts of interest as well as sanctions for violations.

Key Policies

Related Policies

University Administrative Policies

Key Definitions

A systematic investigation designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge, including basic and applied investigations and product development, that is:
  • Funded by or through UNM (including outside sponsored funding);
  • Conducted at UNM, regardless of funding; or
  • Non-sponsored and conducted off campus by UNM employees.
UNM investigator means the principal investigator, the co-principal investigator and any other person (including faculty, staff, and students) who is responsible for the design, conduct or reporting of UNM research.  Any individual who is responsible for a task that could have a significant effect on the research design, conduct or reporting is considered to be an investigator, even if the individual does not have sole or primary responsibility for the task or the research.
Non-UNM Investigator means any person who is:
  1. Responsible for the design, conduct or reporting of UNM research; and
  2. Employed by an entity other than UNM, working pursuant to a sub-award with another entity, working as an independent contractor or collaborator, or otherwise not employed by UNM.
An investigator's professional responsibilities on behalf of the institution, including but not limited to, activities such as research, research consultation, teaching, professional practice, institutional committee membership, service on panels/boards, and administrative appointments.
Conflict of interest means a situation associated with an investigator's participation in UNM research where it reasonably appears, on an actual or potential basis, that:
  • The investigator's significant financial interest could directly and significantly affect the design, conduct or reporting of UNM research activities; or
  • The investigator's situation could directly and significantly compromise his or her professional commitments to UNM.

Examples of the types of situations that may come within this definition include:

  • Holding a direct or indirect interest in an outside entity that conducts business in an area closely related to the UNM research or serving as a director, officer, partner, trustee, manager or employee in such an entity.
  • Undertaking or steering UNM research to serve the research or other needs of an outside entity without approval of UNM or the research sponsor.
  • Directing potential research efforts away from UNM and toward the investigator's outside entity or an outside entity in which the investigator has a financial interest.
  • Transmitting to an outside entity without the sponsor's consent, or otherwise using for personal gain, sponsored work products, results, materials, records or information that are not generally made available.  This does not necessarily preclude contracts between faculty start-ups and either UNM or Rainforest Innovations/STC.UNM, although these contracts may give rise to conflict of interest situations.
  • Using privileged information acquired in connection with the investigator's sponsored UNM research activities for personal gain or for unauthorized purposes.  Privileged information includes medical, personnel or security records of individuals, anticipated material requirements or price actions, possible new sites for government operations, and knowledge of forthcoming programs or selection of contractors or subcontractors in advance of official announcements.
  • Negotiating or influencing the negotiation of contracts related to the investigator's sponsored UNM research between UNM and outside entities with which the investigator has consulting, equity or fiduciary relationships.
  • Accepting gratuities or special favors from entities with which UNM does or may conduct business in connection with sponsored UNM research, or extending gratuities or special favors to employees of the sponsor, under circumstances that reasonably might be interpreted as an attempt to influence the recipients in the conduct of their duties.
Significant financial interest means anything of monetary value belonging to the investigator, his or her spouse or domestic partner and dependent children, including but not limited to:


  • Salary, royalties or other payments for services (e.g., consulting fees or honoraria) unless they are expected to total $10,000 or less over the next 12 months when aggregated for the investigator and his/her spouse and dependent children.
  • Equity interests (e.g., stocks, stock options, other ownership interests) unless they amount to $10,000 or less in value and represent a 5% or less ownership interest in a single entity when aggregated for the investigator and his/her spouse and dependent children.
  • Intellectual property rights (e.g., patents, copyrights) and royalties from these rights.

For Non-PHS/NIH - Significant financial interest does not include the following:

  • Salary, royalties or other remuneration from UNM [including payments or other technology commercialization proceeds through the Science & Technology Corporation @ UNM (Rainforest Innovations)].
  • Income from seminars, lectures or teaching engagements sponsored by public or non-profit entities.
  • Interests in blind trusts if the investigator has no knowledge of the trust assets.
  • Income from service on advisory committees or review panels for public or non-profit entities.
  • Interests in widely-held investment funds, if:
  1. The investigator does not exercise control over or have the ability to exercise control over the fund's financial interests; and
  2. Either the fund is publicly-traded or available, or its assets are widely diversified. For example, if the fund holds no more than 5% of its portfolio value in the securities of any one issuer, other than the federal government, and no more than 20% of its portfolio value in any particular economic or geographic sector.

PHS/NIH and Department of Energy:

  • With regard to any publicly traded entity, if the value of any remuneration received from the entity in the twelve months preceding the disclosure and the value of any equity interest in the entity as of the date of disclosure exceeds $5,000 when aggregated for the investigator, the investigator's spouse and dependent children. Remuneration includes salary and any payment for services not otherwise identified as salary (e.g., consulting fees, honoraria, paid authorship). Equity interest includes any stock, stock option or other ownership interest.
  • With regard to any non-publicly traded entity, if the value of any remuneration received from the entity in the twelve months preceding the disclosure exceeds $5,000 when aggregated for the investigator, the investigator's spouse and dependent children or when the investigator or the investigator's spouse or dependent children holds any equity interest (e.g., stocks, stock options, other ownership interests) or;
  • Intellectual property rights and interests (e.g., patents, copyrights) upon receipt of income related to such rights and interests.