The Financial Conflict of Interest Committee (FCOIC) reviews the financial interests of faculty and academic staff and identifies potential conflicts of interest (COI) related to Cornell research. If a conflict exists, the Committee will help manage it.
What does the FCOIC do?
The Financial Conflict of Interest Committee (FCOIC) ensures that all real or apparent financial conflicts of interest are appropriately managed. With the support of administrative staff, the FCOIC reviews financial disclosures, identifies any conflicts of interest, and develops plans to manage those conflicts, in consultation with unit heads and others as appropriate. Information provided to the FCOIC and its administrators is shared only on a need-to-know basis.
In some cases, a reporter may appeal a decision of the FCOIC to the Vice President for Research and Innovation. If that occurs, the committee reviews the case and any appeal recommendation from the VPR, and issues a binding decision on the appeal. The Committee investigates any alleged non-compliance with a conflict management plan, and reports its findings in accordance with applicable policies and regulations.
Members of the FCOIC also participate in the review and approval of proposed policy and procedures, and management plans proposed by the COI staff.
Who is on the FCOIC?
Current Voting Members
- Christopher Ober, Professor, Materials Science and Engineering (Chairperson)
- Craig Altier, Professor, Population Medicine & Diagnostic Science
- H. Floyd Davis, Professor, Chemistry and Chemical Biology
- Farhan Rana, Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Syed Rizvi, Professor, Food Science
- Marjolein van der Meulen, Professor and Chair, Biomedical Engineering
- Fred B. Schneider, Professor, Computer Science
- Emmanuel Giannelis, Vice President for Research and Innovation, Office of the Provost
- Mary-Margaret Klempa, Senior Director, Office of Sponsored Programs
- Alice Li, Executive Director, Center for Technology Licensing
- Robert R. Hoon, Senior Associate General Counsel
- Mark Hurwitz, Research Integrity Officer
- Bridget MacRae, Conflicts and Education Supervisor, Office of Research Integrity and Assurance
- Valerie Ziarniak, FCOI & RCR Compliance Assistant, Office of Research Integrity and Assurance
Roles and Responsibilities of FCOIC Members
Vice President for Research and Innovation (VPRI)
Members of the FCOIC are appointed by the Vice President for Research and Innovation. The Committee must include as voting members no fewer than seven members of the Ithaca faculty, chosen from both the endowed and contract colleges. The FCOIC also includes, as non-voting members, university administrators, including representatives from the Office of Research Integrity and Assurance, the Office of Sponsored Programs, the Center for Technology Licensing, and the Office of University Counsel. The VPR appoints one voting member to serve as Chair.
The primary responsibilities of the FCOIC Chair are to ensure that the Committee’s decisions are in line with university policies and guidelines for COI management, and to establish an environment of communication and effective resolution of issues under discussion by the Committee. As a member of the FCOIC, the Chair will review COI disclosures and contribute to the development of management plans to effectively address conflicts. Although compliance-related subject matter expertise on conflicts of interest is provided by the COI Administrators, the Chair is expected to be broadly familiar with applicable policy requirements, so that s/he can effectively advise and guide the Committee. In cases where the nature of the external relationship or the conflict is unclear, or the terms of a proposed management plan are contested by the reporter, the Chair may dialogue with the reporter and his/her leadership in an attempt to arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution. The VPR may consulted the Chair when identifying new members of the FCOIC or changes to the Committee’s membership.
The COI Administrators provide administrative and tactical support to the COI function and the FCOIC in the following ways:
- Serve as subject matter experts and advise reporters and members of the FCOIC on related policies, regulations, guidelines and best practices;
- Train and provide continuing education to FCOIC members and general research population in the identification and management of financial conflicts of interest, including related university policies and procedures and federal requirements;
- Draft operating principles, procedural and guidance documents, and template management plans for review and approval by the FCOIC;
- As required, or when requested by the FCOIC, research and provide input on alternative approaches to Conflict Management;
- Stay current on developments in the regulatory environment, assess their applicability to Cornell's Ithaca-based campuses, and advise the FCOIC on impacts;
- In accordance with required regulations and best practices, work with the FCOIC and the VPR to implement required or recommended changes to the reporting and management of disclosures.
- Coordinate reporting, collection, review, resolution and communication regarding reports of external commitments and financial interests;
- Assist and advise reporters on Cornell policy considerations and regulatory requirements;
- Conduct preliminary reviews of reports to ensure completeness and obtain additional information or clarification from the reporter or other individuals, as needed;
- Conduct an initial screening of reports to determine whether they are exempt from review, eligible for expedited review, or require full Committee review;
- Determine the Cornell policy and regulatory requirements that apply to each report, make an initial recommendation, and draft management plans for further review by the FCOIC;
- In cases of appeal, coordinate the process of submission, review and resolution.
- Maintain documentation of all Committee deliberations and decisions;
- Conduct any follow up required by the FCOIC concerning a report or management plan;
- Serve as the primary liaison between the Committee and reporters, and facilitate discussions between reporters, the FCOIC and others;
- Report to external agencies when required;
- Maintain and update the e-COI report management system to ensure that it meets the policy and regulatory functional and Committee needs; and
- Manage the distribution of Conflict of Commitment reports to the Units.