Because Harvard has such unique cachet, a lot of people care more than you might otherwise expect about how the esteemed academics there carry themselves.
And when it comes to their dealings with the drug, biotech and medical device companies, Harvard's medical faculty have earned some pretty poor marks in recent years.
So now, after a year and a half of study, Harvard Medical School has some new ideas for clamping down on conflicts of interest that will become policy starting next year.
Generally, the rules will restrict, but not eliminate, the flow of industry money to Harvard faculty, while requiring fuller disclosure of what they're being paid to do.
So what can the doctors and scientists at Harvard still take money for?
Harvard says doctors can no longer belong to the roster of speakers drugmakers call upon to give company-crafted promotional talks to other doctors. But it's OK for the faculty to take industry money for talks whose content is developed independently.
Harvard faculty can still make money sitting on company boards and working on industry projects. Anything worth $5,000 or more has to be disclosed publicly on a university website.
3) Travel, Gifts and Meals
Junkets are a no-no under the new policy. No problem for faculty to have travel and meals paid for by a company, though, as long as the costs are part of legitimate work. Personal gifts are verboten.
Harvard will allow faculty to be paid by companies whose nifty stuff faculty members are testing in the clinic. But they can't earn more than $10,000 a year per company. There's also a $30,000 limit on stock in publicly traded companies and a prohibition on holdings in private companies.
5) Continuing Education
Industry sponsorship of courses that doctors need to take to keep their licenses up to date in most states is still OK, but with quite a few new restrictions. For Harvard faculty to be involved, there must be multiple companies providing money, and no single company can be kicking in more than half of the budget.