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Research Conflict of Interest (RCOI) Program


The term “conflict of interest” describes a situation in which an individual’s professional judgment is at risk of being biased by a secondary interest, resulting in possible harm. It is a broad term that can apply in many different types of situations, which means there are many COI stakeholders across the university. The Research COI Program’s primary focus is on secondary interests of a financial nature that could influence objectivity in research. The Research COI Program:

  • Administers the university’s Disclosure and Management System, which is designed to support disclosure submissions university-wide;
  • Facilitates disclosures by employees with a “personal interest” in a business that is a party to a contract with Virginia Tech; and
  • Assesses and implements management strategies for “significant financial interests” disclosed by Investigators on sponsored research projects in order to promote research objectivity.

If you or an immediate family member (i.e., your spouse or dependent children) have a personal interest in a business that is a party to a contract with Virginia Tech (e.g., sponsored research or a university purchase), contact for a reportability assessment . An employee has a personal interest in a business when they or an immediate family member hold >3% equity in or receive >$5,000 in compensation from the business annually. 

Investigators on Sponsored Research Projects

The term “Investigator” includes the PI, project director, co-Investigator, and any other person, regardless of title or position, who is responsible for the design, conduct, or reporting of research.

Investigators must disclose the following significant financial interests held in the past 12 months that are related to their institutional responsibilities:

  • For a single publicly traded entity, income and equity value (determined through public prices) ˃$5,000 in total or
  • For a single non-publicly traded entity, income ˃$5,000 or any equity interest.

Significant financial interests are disclosed in the context of the Investigator, their spouse, and dependent children  (i.e., the Investigator's immediate family members).

Investigators must take research COI training every four years. Virginia Tech utilizes the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative Program (CITI) for research COI training. Although the content is PHS/HHS-specific, Virginia Tech applies the same disclosure and management principles to all sponsored research, regardless of sponsor.