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Are School of Medicine faculty members permitted to participate on speakers’ bureaus?


The School of Medicine Industry Conflict-of-Interest Policy prohibits faculty members from participating in industry-paid speakers’ bureau activities. “Speakers’ bureau activity” is defined as: “Compensation by any pharmaceutical company, medical device manufacturer or manufacturer of other health- or nutrition-related products, or their subsidiaries, for speaking engagements, whether on a one-time or recurring basis.”

Under this policy, some industry-sponsored speaking engagements are permitted. A faculty committee has been established by the Dean and Faculty Officers to review requests for approval of speaking engagements. Approval may be granted only by the committee, and only for faculty presentations that represent a genuine service to the community and that are solely for educational purposes. Approval will not be granted for promotional or marketing talks. Specifically, approval will not be granted if: a) the talk focuses on specific drugs or products; OR b) the speaker is required to use any slides or other materials provided by industry; OR c) the slides or other instructional materials are subject to oversight or review by industry (although industry representatives are permitted to review slides and handouts for the sole purpose of ensuring compliance with FDA regulations).

There are three types of paid speaking engagements where approval by the faculty COI committee is not required. First, faculty members may receive compensation directly from an academic institution for serving as a visiting professor or presenting grand rounds. Faculty members may also give presentations where official Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits are awarded. Finally, faculty members may participate in speaking engagements that are directly related to the faculty member’s research. Though not explicitly defined in the SOM speakers’ bureau policy, research-related speaking includes “activities that focus on planning, conduct or analysis of a clinical or scientific investigation or dissemination of the results of an investigation performed or coordinated by the faculty member.” 

To obtain approval for an industry-sponsored speaking engagement, complete this short application. This link also provides more information about the SOM COI and speakers’ bureau policies.

Faculty members must be aware that speakers’ bureau activities, even if approved by the COI Committee, are still subject to other University and SOM regulations, including those governing disclosures of financial ties and assignment of income to University Physicians, Inc. (UPI). For a general discussion of relevant UPI and University policies governing speaking and consulting income, see the SOM case studies document.​ ​​