A new, government-funded study at Johns Hopkins will
provide much-needed information about conflict of interest
in medical research. The $3 million, four-year
investigation will explore the difficult issue of how best
to disclose such conflicts to potential participants in
The main goal of the study — called the Conflict
of Interest Notification Study, or COINS — is to
provide a framework for establishing sound policy and
practices for disclosing conflict of interest in research.
Funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of
the National Institutes of Health, COINS is being led by
Jeremy Sugarman, the newly endowed Harvey M. Meyerhoff
Medicine at the School of Medicine.
While general awareness has increased about the growth
of conflicts of interest in medical research, little is
understood about the way patients learn about them and how
— or if — they incorporate them into decisions
regarding their participation in research activities.
"Conflicts of interest can be present in otherwise
ethically acceptable research provided that these conflicts
are managed. This often includes disclosing them to
patients who are deciding whether or not to participate in
research," Sugarman said. "Ultimately, we want to have
guidelines for when, where and how researchers should
disclose any conflicts of interest to patients. We also
want to track these disclosures and learn how they
influence patients' decisions about their care."
Prior to joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins,
Sugarman was a professor of medicine and philosophy, and
founding director of the Center for the Study of Medical
Ethics and Humanities, at Duke University's School of
Medicine. While there, he served as a senior policy and
research analyst for the White House Advisory Committee on
Human Radiation Experiments and as a consultant to the
National Bioethics Commission.
Sugarman has published extensively in leading
peer-reviewed journals. He also has co-edited four books in
the field and currently sits on the editorial boards of
Accountability in Research, the American Journal
of Bioethics and Theoretical Medicine in Bioethics.
Sugarman earned his medical degree from Duke
University, then completed a fellowship in general internal
medicine at Johns Hopkins. He later obtained a master's
degree in philosophy from Georgetown University and a
master's in public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health.
His new appointment will be honored at a dedication
ceremony taking place at Evergreen House, today, Sept.