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Ethics and Technology Transfer
  1. Deborah Zucker, MD, PhD
  1. From the Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.
  1. Received December 2, 2010, and in revised form January 13, 2011.
  2. Accepted for publication January 13, 2011.
  3. Reprints: Deborah Zucker, MD, PhD, Tufts University School of Medicine, 800 Washington St, Box 63, Boston, MA 02111. E-mail: dzucker{at}
  4. Sources of Support:
    This manuscript is based on a presentation given at EB2009 in New Orleans, LA. This symposium was supported in part by a grant from the National Center for Research Resources (R13 RR023236). However, the views expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of the NCRR, AFMR, or any other institutions with which she is affiliated.

Patients, Patents, and Public Trust


Universities and academic medical centers have been increasing their focus on technology transfer and research commercialization. With this shift in focus, academic-industry ties have become prevalent. These relationships can benefit academic researchers and help then to transform their research into tangible societal benefits. However, there also are concerns that these ties and the greater academic focus on commercialization might lead to conflicts of interest, especially financial conflicts of interest. This paper briefly explores some of these conflicts of interest, particularly relating to research and training. This paper also discusses some of the policies that have been, and are being, developed to try to mitigate and manage these conflicts so that academic involvement in technology transfer and commercialization can continue without jeopardizing academic work or the public's trust in them.

Key Words
  • ethics
  • conflicts of interest
  • academic-industry
  • technology transfer
  • commercialization

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