Safely navigating through conflict of interest and related regulations

There are many policies and regulations related to conflicts of interest that come from government, NSHE and the University of Nevada, Reno. The list below explains several policies that are relevant to University faculty and staff who have significant financial interests and/or professional relationships with outside entities that are related to their work at the University.

  • Personal use of University resources: University employees may not use University time, property, equipment or other resources to benefit a personal financial interest or an outside entity. Examples of University resources include your University office, University-paid time; staff, students, or trainees; laboratory or office equipment; laboratory or office supplies; University facilities; or the University name or logo.
  • Contracts in which you have a personal financial interest: University employees cannot become contractors or suppliers of goods or services to any NSHE institution, nor can they have a direct or indirect interest in a company that does so, without prior written approval.
  • Recusal from decision making: University employees may not participate in any decision-making, negotiation or transactions on behalf of the University that involve a business entity in which the employee, a family member, household member or business associate have a significant financial interest.
  • Non-affiliation with the University: When providing services for an outside entity, University employees must notify those who engage them that they are not acting in the name of the University and that the University is not party to the contract nor liable for any of the employee’s actions under the external contract or agreement.
  • University email and website: University employees may not use their University email address or website for activities related to personal business or for an outside entity.
  • Using non-public information: Employees must not share non-publicly available information with an outside entity. For example, do not share proprietary information, biological material, or unpublished data without a University-executed written intellectual property agreement, data sharing agreement or materials transfer agreement.
  • Providing information about an outside entity: University employees may provide information to the University community about an outside entity, but they must not require or encourage University faculty/staff/students/trainees to engage with the company as customers or use its services.
  • Hiring students: To protect students’ rights as scholars and researchers, University employees should contact the Conflict of Interest Designated Official listed below prior to hiring University students under their direction to work for an outside entity in which they have a financial interest.
  • Non-compliant contract terms: University employees’ obligations under an agreement with an outside entity must not restrict or hinder their ability to conduct current or future research or teaching assignments with the University, nor limit their ability to publish work generated at or on behalf of the University, nor infringe on their academic freedom. It is important to read each contract and/or agreement carefully before signing. University employees may ask the COI Designated Official listed below to review contracts and agreements for compliance with NSHE and University policies.

This is not an exhaustive list of policies and much of the information is paraphrased. For more information, please contact:

Michele Dondanville
Research Compliance Program Manager
Conflicts of Interest Designated Official
(775) 784-6360 or mdondanville@unr.edu