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Avoiding Commercial Law Problems

All cooperative research agreements and contracts for specific research should discuss specifically the ownership of the research data and who controls the dissemination of the data. The university and the individual researchers should have the agreements independently reviewed by their own attorneys. Physicians who are involved with companies through contract research or other relationships must disclose these to their university. The university should notify all persons who may be insiders due to these agreements of potential limitations on their use of material nonpublic information.

More generally, physician-researchers should avoid owning or trading in the stock of companies for which they do research to obviate questions of insider trading. Any researcher who has a financial interest in the outcome of a research project risks being attacked for bias and misconduct. An honest mistake in the collection or interpretation of data can take on sinister overtones when the researcher owns stock in the affected company. Universities with substantial cooperative research agreements also should not hold stock in the companies sponsoring the research.


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