Context.— Throughout the last decade a number of studies have been conducted to
examine academic-industry research relationships. However, to our knowledge,
no studies to date have empirically examined academic scientists' experience
with research-related gifts from companies.
Objective.— To examine the frequency, importance, and potential implications of
research-related gifts from companies to academic life scientists.
Design.— A mailed survey conducted in 1994 and 1995 of 3394 faculty who conduct
life science research at the 50 universities that received the most research
funding from the National Institutes of Health in 1993.
Setting.— Research-intensive universities.
Participants.— A total of 2167 of the 3394 faculty responded to the survey (response
Main Outcome Measures.— The percentage of faculty who received a research-related gift from
a company in the last 3 years, the perceived importance of gifts to respondents'
research, and what, if anything, the recipient thought the donor(s) expected
in return for the gift.
Results.— Forty-three percent of respondents received a research-related gift
in the last 3 years independent of a grant or contract. The most frequently
received gifts were biomaterials (24%), discretionary funds (15%), research
equipment and trips to meetings (11% each), support for students (9%), and
other research-related gifts (3%). Of those who received a gift, 66% reported
the gift was important to their research. More than half of the recipients
reported that donors expected the following in return for the gift: acknowledgment
in publications (63%), that the gift not be passed on to a third party (60%),
and that the gift be used only for the agreed-on purposes (59%). A total of
32% of recipients reported that the donor wanted prepublication review of
any articles or reports stemming from the use of the gift, 30% indicated the
company expected testing of their products, and 19% indicated that a donor
expected ownership of all patentable results from the research in which a
gift was used. However, what recipients thought donors expected differed by
the type of gift received.
Conclusions.— Research-related gifts are a common and important form of research support
for academic life scientists. However, recipients frequently think that donors
place restrictions and expect returns that may be problematic for recipients
as well as institutions.