Safeguards for International Research Collaboration

As one of the world’s leading research universities, Yale is strongly committed to international research collaboration. In recent months, the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies have expressed heightened concern about foreign influence on U.S. research. Faculty and staff should be aware of those concerns and of the shared obligation to safeguard the integrity of university research and to protect the intellectual property, sensitive data, and controlled information developed or housed at Yale. Yale values its relationships with international scientists and institutions, and Yale is actively working to protect longstanding principles of openness in collaboration and scientific publication. President Peter Salovey affirmed Yale’s steadfast commitment to international students and scholars in a letter to the Yale community on May 23, 2019.

In December 2018, the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) published a report which outlined concerns about foreign influence on research and made recommendations to the Director. Matters identified included not disclosing conflicts of interest and commitment or financial support with or from international sources. This report followed a letter in August from NIH Director Francis Collins that identified concerns about improper foreign influence in US research – specifically, that foreign entities have developed systematic programs to influence NIH researchers and peer reviewers.

The Department of Energy and the Department of Defense are also taking actions against foreign interference by issuing restrictions on interactions with certain entities abroad. One example is the National Defense Authorization Act. The Office of Research Administration monitors all agencies and will communicate new regulations as they are adopted by the agencies. 

Important obligations are associated with doing research and the acceptance of external funding. It is incumbent upon the faculty and University administrators to comply fully with all requirements of our sponsors. Examples of such obligations are detailed in the FAQ. An additional resource is Guidance for Faculty Concerning Consulting and Other External Activities.

Please visit the Office of Research Administration page for information on export controls or the Office of Sponsored Projects page for information on sponsor requirements. Contact Don Deyo, Director, Export Controls and Senior Advisor for Contracts, donald.deyo@yale.edu with questions on export controls and Lisa Mosley, Executive Director, Office of Sponsored Projects, lisa.mosley.@yale.edu for questions related to sponsor requirements and visiting scientist agreements.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have a gift that requires progress reports and financial status updates. Should this be reported?
NIH: Under current guidance from NIH, gifts are not required to be reported as Other Support. NIH has not provided guidance on what constitutes a gift. 

NSF: NSF does not require gifts to be reported in current and pending support. However, under NSF guidance, items or services (including financial support) given with the expectation of an associated time commitment are considered in-kind contributions, not gifts, and must be reported as follows:

  • If the in-kind contribution is not intended for use on the project/proposal being proposed to NSF but has an associated time commitment, the information must be included as part of the current and pending support section of the proposal.
  • If the in-kind contribution is intended for use on the project/proposal being proposed to NSF, the information must be included as part of the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section of the proposal and need not be replicated in the individual’s current and pending support submission.

I have received high-value materials that aren’t readily available (e.g. biologicals, chemicals, model systems, technology, etc.) as an in-kind contribution that are in support of and or related to my research endeavors. Should this be reported as Other Support?

NIH: Under current guidance from NIH, high-value materials are required to be reported as Other Support whether or not they will be used in connection with the NIH funding sought. 

NSF: NSF requires in-kind support:

  • With no associated time commitment that will be used in the NSF project be included as part of the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section. In-kind support that requires a time commitment should be reported as Current and Pending support. 
  • In-kind support with no associated time commitment that will NOT be used in the NSF project does not need to be reported. 

I have an external, active appointment with a non-Yale entity. Should this be included on my Biosketch and/or reported as Other Support?

NIH: Out of an abundance of caution, you should include all appointments (even if honorary) on your Biosketch. If the appointment makes available in-kind resources (laboratory personnel, space, materials, etc.) that are in support of and/or related to your research endeavors (including research endeavors that do not receive federal funding), the in-kind resources should be reported as Other Support.

NSF: NSF requires all appointments be listed whether or not remuneration is received, and whether full-time, part-time, or voluntary (including adjunct, visiting, or honorary). If the appointment makes available in-kind resources (laboratory personnel, space, materials, etc.) that are in support of and/or related to your research endeavors (including research endeavors that do not receive federal funding), NSF requires in-kind support:

  • With no associated time commitment that will be used in the NSF project be included as part of the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section. 
  • In-kind support that includes a time commitment, should be reported as Current and Pending support. 

I have collaborations with external parties but there isn’t a formal subaward or agreement in place. Should this be reported as Other Support?

NIH: If these collaborations make available in-kind resources that are in support of and/or related to your research endeavors (including research endeavors that do not receive federal funding), the in-kind resources should be reported as Other Support to NIH.

NSF: NSF requires in-kind support:

  • With no associated time commitment that will be used in the NSF project be included as part of the Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources section. 
  • In-kind support that requires a time commitment should be reported as Current and Pending support.
  • In-kind support with no associated time commitment that will NOT be used in the NSF project does not need to be reported. 

I have collaborations with external parties in other countries, when do these collaborations constitute a foreign component of my NIH funded research?
For international collaborations, NIH has reminded investigators that a foreign component is the “performance of any significant scientific element or segment of a project outside of the United States, either by the recipient or by a researcher employed by a foreign organization, whether or not grant funds are expended.” NIH has described three types of activities that constitute foreign components

  • involvement of human subjects or animals;
  • extensive foreign travel by recipient project staff for the purpose of data collection, surveying, sampling, and similar activities; and
  • any activity of the recipient that may have an impact on U.S. foreign policy through involvement in the affairs or environment of a foreign country.

NIH has stated that the following grant-related activities may, but need not, give rise to a foreign component: 

  • collaborations with investigators at a foreign site anticipated to result in co-authorship;
  • use of facilities or instrumentation at a foreign site; or
  • receipt of financial support or resources from a foreign entity.

If the collaboration meets the NIH definition and was not listed as a foreign component in the funded application, NIH requires prior approval to add the foreign component. 

I have received support (financial and/or in-kind support of materials, personnel, space, etc.) that required me to sign an agreement. This support is managed by a non-Yale entity. Does this need to be disclosed as Other Support?
NIH and NSF: Yes, it should be disclosed as Other Support to NIH and should be reported to NSF as Current and Pending support. It should also be disclosed to Yale via the Conflict of Interest Office.

I currently host visiting staff (visiting professors, research scientists, post-docs, lab associates, etc.) who are funded from non-Yale resources and collaborate with me on my research endeavors. Should this be disclosed as Other Support?
NIH and NSF: Yes, these positions should be disclosed as Other Support to NIH and as Current and Pending support to NSF.

I currently host graduate students in my lab who are funded from non-Yale resources. Should this be disclosed as other support?
NIH: If the graduate student’s purpose in your lab is that of a trainee, they do not need to be disclosed as Other Support unless the graduate student’s activities in your lab are in support of, and/or related to your research endeavors, in which case the student’s non-Yale funding should be disclosed as Other Support to NIH.

NSF: For NSF, mentoring activities do not need to be reported as current and pending support if those activities take place as part of the graduate student’s regular appointment at Yale. If you receive in-kind support for mentoring graduate students directly (outside of the university) or through the university from an external source, that in-kind support, including the time associated with such mentoring, should be identified your current and pending support submission.

What if I believe there is no scientific, budgetary, or commitment overlap for a resource that has been disclosed as Other Support?
If you have access to resources that NIH considers to be Other Support and should be reported, but you do not think there is any scientific, budgetary, or commitment overlap, you should include a brief statement explaining your rationale of why there isn’t any scientific, budgetary, or commitment overlap.

Do outside consulting activities need to be reported as Other Support/Current and Pending support?
NIH and NSF: If an investigator receives remuneration or in-kind support in connection with an external professional activity, and the activity is related to or in support of the investigator’s research endeavors, it should be reported as Other Support to NIH and Current and Pending support to NSF.

In general, a remunerated external activity should not be classified as “consulting,” and should be disclosed as Other Support/Current and Pending support, if it involves or any agreement specifies one or more of the following activities:

  • Activities other than “advice and guidance,” including supervising, conducting, or reporting of research;
  • Activities that are expected to result in a faculty member being listed as a co-author on a publication;
  • Activities that are expected to provide resources (personnel, materials, space, equipment, etc.) that are in support of and/or related to a faculty’s research endeavors;
  • Activities that involve a time commitment greater than that which is allowable per the Faculty Handbook (typically no more than one day per seven-day week on average); or
  • Activities that involve the use of University resources (personnel, materials, space, equipment, etc.) to achieve the outcome of the professional services/consulting agreement.
  • If the external professional activity includes either the performance of any of these activities or a contractual obligation to perform them, whether or not the performance has taken place, it should be disclosed as Other Support.

As a reminder, all external activities must comply with the Faculty Handbook including obtaining any advance approvals and reporting to the Conflict of Interest Office.

What if I’m unsure if a resource should be reported?
NIH and NSF have advised that in the interest of full transparency, recipients should err on the side of disclosure.

Additional Resources

Key Requirements

  • Yale faculty must report to federal sponsors all sources of funding and external affiliations, including financial support received from a foreign government, university or other legal entity outside the U.S., as required by sponsor policies.
    • For NIH awards, this disclosure is required during the Just-in-Time process on the Other Support page or within the Research Performance Progress Reports submitted annually.
    • On NIH applications, proposals must indicate whether the project includes a “foreign component”, and, if yes, provide a foreign justification document. A foreign component is defined as performance of any significant scientific element or segment of a project outside of the United States, either by the recipient or by a researcher employed by a foreign organization, whether or not grant funds are expended, including subawards.
  • All faculty members with University appointments of greater than 50% are required annually to disclose their external activities and financial interests. This requirement also applies to all faculty who hold administrative positions and all faculty and non–faculty personnel who are responsible for the design, conduct or reporting of research
  • Sponsors often require that recipients acknowledge funding when issuing statements, press releases, requests for proposals, and other documents. Faculty must ensure that the acknowledgements comply with sponsor requirements.
  • Visiting Scientists who come on campus to work with Yale faculty must be properly vetted and appointed and must sign a visiting scientist agreement. 
  • All Yale researchers must ensure compliance with U.S. export control regulations when traveling abroad; collaborating with international partners; engaging in international financial or shipping transactions; transferring technology; and using restricted materials.
  • Yale researchers must not host visitors, enter into contracts, do business, or engage in any activity with entities or persons listed on a U.S. restricted party list. 

Reference

NIH Guidance: Foreign Influence

DOE Guidance

DOE Order No. O 486-1: Department of Energy Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Programs.

Prohibits DOE employees and contractors participating in foreign talent recruitment programs from certain countries from receiving DOE funding. The extent and reach of this requirement to recipients and subrecipients of DOE funding is not yet known as the requirement is being first implemented within DOE national labs. 

DOD Guidance

Actions for the Protection of intellectual Property, Controlled Information, Key Personnel and Critical Technologies
Michael Griffin memorandum, sent March 20, 2019.

NSF Guidance