Our vision on technology transfer
We believe in the vision of the ‘two translational gaps’ that researchers have to cross: from the lab to clinical trials, and from scientific publication to routine care. The common view is that once the thesis is defended, or the paper is published, most of the work has been done. We believe it’s not. If you develop a tool or a treatment that’s not actually used in patient care, the work is unfinished, in particular if the research has been funded by public money.
Our long-term objective is to improve the lives of people with chronic diseases. Therefore, we need to involve companies at an early stage to ensure the implementation of our research findings. The collaboration with companies, following the applicable rules and regulation, also has the secondary benefit of facilitating funding of academic research.
· Patient benefit must be the ultimate aim of cancer research.
· Your responsibility does not stop with a published paper.
· Throwing a paper over the fence and hope that it will be taken over by a company for patient care is naïve and wrong.
· When your research has been funded by public money you have the ethical and moral obligation to ensure it is taken over by a company, an existing one or a company that you launch.
Our ten rules in case of potential conflict of interest
In our department we are following this document since 2018, inspired by other universities.
Here are ten rules:
- Any work for a third party should be approved and disclosed in accordance to university rules. These rules should be checked for updates regularly.
- Academic and company work should be separated by a virtual Chinese Wall. In cases where a topic is studied in both the company and academic environments (not an open source software), a Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA) should always be signed by the Head of School after approval has been given by the legal department of the university.
- The relationship between both legal entities should be covered by documents approved by the legal department of UM and signed by the school director (e.g. material transfer agreements, research contracts, consortium agreements, license agreements, etc.).
- The scientist linked to the company should, a-priori, not have access to raw data nor perform any analysis on the overlapping topic(s). If he is it should be under supervision with a set of original data kept in the back-up system.
- A senior and independent scientist should always be involved in the analysis of overlapping topics. Furthermore, every manuscript and the corresponding workflows/computer code/experiment set-up/data analysis/data curation processes should be quality controlled by the independent senior scientist.
- The results (even negative ones) should be published in a journal that includes a thorough, independent peer review. In other words, academic independence should be maintained at all times without restriction.
- All the data and workflows should be kept “frozen” (e.g. in the DataHub) after completion of a project for a possible secondary analysis.
- Any work for a third party should be disclosed on all presentations and publications as per local, national and international rules.
- Before starting any project that has a potential conflict of interest, an independent quality manager should be identified in order to verify that the above-mentioned rules are followed. In case of a breach, the assigned quality manager has an obligation to mention it to the school director.
- The school director or its representative should be informed (who are the scientists involved who is the quality manager) and they are free to audit any of the processes at any moment, without warning.
Disclosures of potential conflict of interest
All the work for third parties should be registered and approved on the intranet of Maastricht university (Employee Service System (ESS)). Furthermore the work for third parties of professor must be made publicly available once approved:
Prof. Philippe Lambin: https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/philippe.lambin/work-for-third-parties