These FAQs were designed to accompany our Foreign Influence and Sponsored Research video. You can review the Foreign Influence FAQs specific to each of the stages throughout the research lifecycle:
Foreign Influence: Plan/Propose Stage
Q1: Does my appointment at a foreign institution need to be reported even if it is not related to my NIH Supported work?
Q2: Should I list foreign Graduate students who work in my lab as Key Personnel?
A2: Yes, most Graduate students are not generally considered Key Personnel. However, because they are from a foreign institution and are providing work that benefits your research, this qualifies as a form of Other Support. Include them when reporting Other Support to NIH.
Q3: Do I need to report foreign Graduate students who work in my lab within my Other Support to NIH?
A3: Yes, because they are from a foreign institution and are providing work that benefits your research, this qualifies as a form of Other Support. Include them when reporting Other Support to NIH.
Q4: Is my work with a long time foreign colleague something to be concerned about? Can We continue our collaborations?
I’ve been working with a research professor in China for years. We routinely visit each other’s labs, share techniques, coauthor papers, provide mentorship to each other’s Graduate students and are listed on a couple of patents together. Should I have any concerns about our previous work and how do I know if we can continue our collaborations?
A4: Your continued collaboration would depend on a variety of factors. Considerations include:
- There have not been recent changes in your collaborative relationship, the purpose, or the terms of your collaboration.
- You are knowledgeable about the foreign influence guidance for China and are following all requirements.
- You are reporting/disclosing as appropriate (Current and Pending or Other Support, BioSketch, Outside Work, SFI)
Q5: Is it ok if a sponsor includes a requirement in the award that they must review and approve publications arising from the research?
A5: The UW does not allow a sponsor to prevent the publication of your academic research results. Disseminating knowledge is one of the core tenets of the UW’s mission. The Faculty Council on Research approval is required before any research project is accepted where the sponsor wants to prevent open publication or dissemination of your research results. Here are some important considerations for export controls:
- Any publication approval process could potentially mean that your research results are export controlled.
- You might not be able to use foreign nationals on your research team.
- If the sponsor has the right to approve your publications and does not approve your proposed publications, the results would not be part of the public domain.
- Information in the public domain does not require an export license to send overseas or share with foreign nationals.
You may have already violated export control laws by exposing your research results to foreign nationals wherever located.
It is however, common practice and acceptable for a sponsor to review your proposed publications for either of these two strict reasons:
- To identify pre-existing, inadvertently incorporated proprietary information.
- To identify results that the sponsor may wish to seek intellectual property protection.
Q6: When are research results NOT subject to export controls?
A6: Information in the public domain does not require an export license to send overseas or share with foreign nationals. In order for your unpublished research results to qualify as public domain, the sponsor cannot have the right to prevent the publication of your research RESULTS.
Q7: How do I tell if I am being “recruited” by a foreign institution?
A prominent research university sponsored by the Chinese government approached me with an offer to spend one month per year there. They’ll provide a fully outfitted lab, a junior faculty member’s support and a budget for supplies and a technician as well as use of shared equipment. They were very clear that it’s not a “Talent Recruitment Program,” it’s an “International Prominent Visiting Scientist Program.”
A7: Be very skeptical when a foreign institution approaches you with an offer that sounds too good to be true. There are a number of considerations that may help determine if an offer from a foreign institution is a recruitment effort, or if it is something to avoid:
- If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is
- If you have existing federal awards that restrict this type of activity?
- If you are a prominent, international scientist
- If the institution is a military/technical university
- If the existing colleagues at the university are not trusted partners
- Think through these contract considerations: Are you comfortable with all terms and conditions?
- Has your department, school or college reviewed them?
- Has your UW department/unit approved it as Outside Work?
Q8: What other action items do I need to take care of at the proposal stage?
A8: When your application is ready for routing you’ll also be prompted for a disclosure of Significant Financial Interests (SFIs) in the Financial Interest Disclosure System (FIDS). Based on your described activities (if you haven’t already done so) you may need to disclose sponsored/reimbursed travel for either or both collaborations. While travel to US universities for collaborations is generally excluded from disclosure requirements, this doesn’t apply to foreign universities where the threshold for travel disclosures is $50, instead of the usual $5,000 for SFI.
Q9: Do I need to disclose travel to foreign universities for my NIH proposal?
A9: While travel to US universities for collaborations is generally excluded from SFI disclosure requirements, this doesn’t apply to foreign universities where the threshold for travel disclosures is $50, instead of the usual $5,000 for SFI.
Foreign Influence: Setup Stage
Q1: What do we need to have in place to set up a subaward with a foreign subcontractor to have them process out samples on an NIH award?
When subcontracting samples to a foreign entity you have two exports which may need an export license: the specimens and proprietary information. And a non-disclosure agreement might also be a good idea.
If the specimens require an export license, it’s likely that the technical data or software associated with the specimens will as well.
Common items that require export licenses are items designed for military or space applications, pathogens, toxins, radiation emitting items, sensors, high-tech electronics, amongst several other items. If you need assistance on reviewing the export-controlled status of the specimens and/or equipment, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q2: I have an international colleague who will run some tests. Do I need to let NIH know?
A2: Yes. Before that work is carried out internationally, consider your colleague’s role on the project.
If they are performing a programmatic portion of the work, and they are doing so at tan international University in its facilities, then that University is considered a “foreign component”. We need to ask permission from NIH to add this foreign component to the project before you arrange for the international colleague to carry out those tests. You will send that request through OSP to get formal approval from the sponsor.
When asking permission from NIH, be clear on what is going to be shared with the colleague/collaborator (e.g. samples).
Q3: We were going to send samples to an international colleague, have them run tests and send the results to us. What do we need to do for this?
A3: You won’t need a subaward if there won’t be funding to the international institution. However, this is considered adding a foreign component, and NIH approval is required. Depending on the type of samples, you may need a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA). An MTA helps set out what the receiving party must do to protect the samples and who owns them. Review more information on where to get help setting up an MTA.
Q4: Planning to travel next year - what do I need to do to make sure my outside work approvals are in place and current?
A4: There are important updates you will need to make in FIDS. You may be able to save yourself time if you are able to approximate total travel and compensation per year.
Clearly indicating these amounts in your initial FIDS disclosure means you won’t have to log and edit your profile after each trip. You may resubmit these annually. You might also save some time by requesting approval for all travel engagements within a year on a single Form 1460.
With regard to financial interest disclosures, even if your travel is less than $5,000 it requires disclosure, even though it is not considered SFI and is unlikely to result in a Financial Conflict of Interest under GIM 10.
If there were a financial conflict of interest, the Office of Research would issue you a conflict management plan at time of award. Always with your department even if there is no financial conflict of interest. in case any internal controls might be needed.
Foreign Influence: Manage Stage
Q1: Is it ok to teach over the summer and incorporate results related to my NIH research in my teaching?
A1: Yes, you can teach classes on this subject and discuss results so far, though there are some considerations.
As with any project, keep in mind whether you need to disclose research results to CoMotion. The research results could be potential innovations which require patent protection. If you discuss those details in a class, or publish results without considering potential patent protection, it undermines the ability to protect them later.
Q2: Do I need to report summer salary for a research project as Other Support to NIH?
An international University offered me $12,000 in summer salary to pick up a research project. Do I need to report this to the NIH on my progress report? It doesn’t have anything to do with the NIH grant.
A2: NIH will likely consider summer research work to be related to your overall research portfolio, and will expect it reported within your Other Support.
Outside work that is not related to your general research portfolio does not need to be reported to NIH as “Other Support” in your progress report.
Outside work must be approved through the UW Outside Work approval process a.k.a. the form 1460 process and if your compensation, including travel, is over $5,000 this collaboration is now an SFI and will be reviewed by the Office of Research.
Q3: Do I need to revise my Outside Work approvals if the focus of the work changes?
For example from leading seminars/mentoring to performing research? I’ve been offered a summer research project. I think my current Outside Work approval only mentioned the student seminars and mentoring. Do I need to revise my Outside Work?
A3: Yes. Whether research or not, outside work must be approved through the UW Outside Work approval process a.k.a. the form 1460 process and if your compensation, including travel, is over $5,000 this collaboration is now an SFI and will be reviewed by the Office of Research.
Q4: What should I be aware of when presenting at an international conference on a federal award?
A4: First, ensure that the conference is an open conference. By open, we mean a conference where the scientific community is openly invited to attend, and a conference that does not have any restrictions on taking photos, notes, or information from the conference.
Second, while your personal effects may be taken out of the country, do you have a personal computing device that contains a sponsor’s technical data? You must remove any data on your devices that might contain military or space technical data, so you may want to request your IT representative to permanently remove files related to your federal project.
Q5: What should I consider if I have an International Colleague who wants to visit my lab and discuss my research?
A5: You should always be aware of who you are collaborating with. If the foreign colleague is working on a foreign government’s military or space capabilities, we may need to obtain the US government’s prior approval. Also, do not disclose any proprietary information to your foreign colleague. Report any unusual behavior such as requests for information not related to your collaboration, or taking photos of laboratory equipment.
All that said, if you are interested in hosting this international visitor, you can do so as long as you take appropriate precautions such as not allowing the visitor to connect to your lab’s IT systems or provide them with technical data that you do not intend to publish. You should also work with your school/college or department about any international visitors.
Foreign Influence: Closeout Stage
Q1: Besides a record of Innovation report, what else do I need to do at the end of my project?
My research is wrapping up, we made some interesting results that are being published. I made a Record of Innovation (ROI) invention disclosure to CoMotion on related work being done last year. What else do I need to do at the end of my project?
A1: Anything you report to CoMotion on an ROI is also something you must disclose on a final invention statement when you submit your final report to any federal agency. Federal agencies that fund your research have certain rights as it relates to any intellectual property developed on the project. Including this in your final report helps the sponsor understand what is generated on the project and to protect federal interests in the IP.
Q2: Do I need to do anything about my conflict management plan at project closeout?
A2: A conflict management plan applies to a specific research project or technology and includes the research results and intellectual property developed. It will continue to apply for the duration of a study as well as to the use of those research results or intellectual property. This also means that any subsequent reporting, publications, or use in follow-on proposals, may also be subject to conflict conditions or restrictions.
Annual updates for both travel at the $50 level and compensation over $5,000, is also still required.
- Watch the video: Foreign Influence in Sponsored Programs
- Foreign Interest in Sponsored Programs
- Current and Pending, or Other Support
- Biosketch FAQs
- Sharing Materials
- Current and Pending, or Other Support
- Outside Professional Work
- Financial Conflict of Interest and Disclosing Significant Financial Interest