One of my activities is representing NIGMS on the NIH Financial Conflict of Interest Panel. This group has put substantial time and effort into updating the financial conflict of interest regulations that apply to NIH grant applicants. The proposed changes to the regulations are reflected in a recently released notice of proposed rulemaking (link no longer available) that is now open for comment. You may submit comments electronically or by mail as long as they are received by July 20, 2010.
Although responsibility for reporting and managing financial conflicts of interest would remain with the grantee institution, several of the proposed changes would affect individual investigators. For example, investigator disclosure requirements would be expanded to include all significant financial interests related to the investigator’s institutional responsibilities. In addition, the dollar threshold for disclosure of significant financial interests would be $5,000 (it’s currently $10,000), and this amount would apply to both payments and equity interests. Equity interest of any amount in non-publicly traded entities is considered a significant financial interest and would have to be disclosed.
Investigators would also be required to complete financial conflict of interest training before engaging in NIH-funded research and every 2 years thereafter.
I encourage you to look over the proposed rulemaking document as well as to learn how your institution will be implementing the new financial conflict of interest policy.
UPDATE: The comment period on the proposed changes to financial conflict of interest regulations has been extended to August 19. For more details, see the NIH Guide.