Conflict of Interest
The INSPIRE Foundation enforces a strict protocol should any conflicts of interest (COI) arise. Inevitably, in the relatively specialised and small area of Spinal Cord Injury, it may be that an INSPIRE Trustee or Scientist has an interest in their private or professional capacity and as examples these may include:
- Geographical - the location where a future project could be researched.
- Scientific - the detailed nature of a project.
- Personal – where, through the nature of their own spinal injury, an individual may have a vested interest in one research area rather than another.
- Association - colleagues or associates involved in the INSPIRE business at hand.
- Financial - how a project or other investment might be funded.
Any such interests must be declared at appropriate meetings. In such cases, the Trustee or NSC Member will be invited absent themselves from the conference room, while the other attendees discuss the issue and vote as necessary. The member may then re-join the meeting to be appraised of any decisions taken.
Principal Investigators (PIs) on INSPIRE Funded Projects
Background. In INSPIRE’s recent history, when the research programme was smaller and much less expensive, there were occasions when members of the NSC were heavily involved in INSPIRE funded projects, sometimes as Principal Investigators (PIs). This is contrary to the AMRC’s protocol and in order to conform and a condition of our success at AMRC Audit 2020, our own procedures must change. The Board of Trustees has deemed that such practices are no longer appropriate within this Charity, as they could create multi-stranded COI. INSPIRE’s amended policy is therefore, that PIs should NOT be members of the NSC and that over time, we must draw down the number of other project grant holders who sit on the NSC.
PIs. Where it is considered, that the qualifications of a NSC member are such, that a good project could be jeopardised without their participation as PI, then every effort will be made to protect the project. Accordingly, to conform with AMRC’s protocol, the PI would need to resign from the NSC. Thereafter, following the completion of that project and its Final Report, the PI could be reconsidered for re-election to the NSC if a period of 3 years has past. Each case will be considered pragmatically and on its own merits, first by the NSC and then, where necessary, by the Board or Trustees, which will always focus on the wider interests of the charity.
Other Grant Holders. INSPIRE’s intent over the next 5 years will be to draw down on the number of NSC members who are also grant holders in INSPIRE funded projects. AMRC is keen to see such participation minimised and INSPIRE must be proactive in conforming to this protocol.