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  • Ethics Policy and Guidelines for the Leadership of the ASBMR

    ASBMR Conflict of Interest Chart


    This ASBMR Conflict of Interest Policy is formatted in Section V to be used in conjunction with the Chart Summarizing ASBMR Conflicts of Interest.


    Under the law, there is a Duty of Loyalty that requires nonprofit organizations to identify and resolve conflicts/dualities of interest among Board decision-makers. This Duty requires Society Leaders to act in the interests of the Society and not for personal or third-party gain, promotion of commercial interests, or financial enrichment.

    The mission of the ASBMR is to advance bone, mineral and musculoskeletal science worldwide and to promote the translation of basic and clinical research to improve human health. Central to pursuing that mission, is the obligation of ASBMR leaders to maintain the autonomy and integrity of the organization. To achieve this, ASBMR leaders must maintain their objectivity and loyalty to the Society, and not be influenced by commercial or external influence or bias.

    This Policy applies to the ASBMR Officers, Councilors, Committee and Subcommittee Chairs and members, Editors, Deputy/Associate Editors and Editorial Boards of ASBMR journals and publications, Task Force Members, Program Committees, and Representatives of ASBMR to other societies (“ASBMR Leaders”).

    It is the intention of the Society that actual and apparent conflicts and duality of interest and commercial bias be declared and acknowledged. Situations in which any leader of the Society has such conflicts or dualities of interest must then be resolved by not permitting the leader to act, speak, represent, or participate in decision-making and policy generation on behalf of the ASBMR.

    This policy is not intended to restrict ASBMR Leaders in their roles as scientists, physicians, researchers, medical professionals, and administrators. Ethical guidelines from professional societies, federal agencies, and other organizations governing the conduct of research, the protection of human and animal subjects, and the care of patients serve that purpose.

    While the intent of this policy is to identify and facilitate the resolution of conflicts and dualities of interest, ASBMR Leaders are encouraged – and in noted situations are required – to consult the Ethics Advisory Committee as to how and when conflicts are to be resolved.


    An actual conflict/duality of interest is defined as a situation in which an individual decision-maker has an impediment to being impartial and loyal, such as: (1) a personal, professional, financial, business or volunteer position, responsibility, or interest; or 2) a conflicting duty to another entity where the individual's allegiance may be split between the Society and another organization.

    An apparent conflict/duality is defined as a situation or relationship that may cause a reasonable person to believe that there is a real conflict or to question whether there is an impediment to impartiality that could cause the leader’s loyalty or judgment to be compromised.

    It is a conflict of interest for ASBMR Leaders to: (1) use their position and status to promote any commercial enterprise; (2) allow outside interests to affect their loyalty to the Society when making decisions; (3) take actions that affect the value of a commercial enterprise in which the Leader has a financial interest; and (4) engage in decisions and activities that provide unwarranted benefit or endorsement by ASBMR. Using the name or reputation of a 501(c)(3) organization such as ASBMR to promote any commercial enterprise is considered a private benefit and is not permitted.

    Whether or not a specific situation is considered a conflict of interest or an apparent conflict of interest is determined by how that situation appears to others. This might not be how the leader with the actual or apparent conflict of interest views the situation. Conflicts of interest – whether actual or apparent - must be resolved.

    In some cases, conflicts of interest can be resolved by disclosure and explanation. For example, there may appear to be a conflict when a potential vendor for a major Society project has the same surname as the Society’s President, making them appear to be related. If in fact they are not related, it is only an apparent conflict of interest, which would be resolved by disclosing and explaining the facts.

    In contrast, a situation might arise in which an ASBMR leader is involved in a decision that could provide an opportunity to someone at that leader’s university; even if there is no relationship between the leader and the potential recipient and even if the leader would receive no benefit for a positive decision, this situation represents an apparent conflict of interest, that must be resolved by having the leader refrain from participating in the decision.


    As ASBMR Leaders have varying levels of responsibility and authority, they have varying opportunity for unilateral influence over a matter. For ASBMR Leaders with higher levels of responsibility and authority, more restriction is placed upon the Leaders because they have the opportunity to unilaterally influence Society decisions; such Leaders include the President, the Officers, Councilors, Editors-in-Chief, and certain Task Force and Committee Chairs and Members.

    As indicated by the entries in the chart, as the Society takes on a more prominent role in crafting positions on issues within the ASBMR mission that relate to patient care, the individuals in the highest ASBMR leadership positions and those with important clinical positions should not be regarded as having ties to pharma. In such cases, the conflict is regarded more strictly. The decision in each case, however, remains with the EAC.


    Prior to accepting any nomination or assignment of responsibilities, all nominees and prospective ASBMR Leaders are required to complete the Conflict/Duality of Interest Disclosure Form and to contact the Ethics Advisory Committee EAC about any conflict/duality of interest, or any interests or relationships they might have, in order to determine their eligibility to serve, and if eligible, what conflict resolution procedures would have to be followed. Information on the disclosure forms is not public.

    1. ASBMR Leaders must update their information annually. The Executive Director compiles the disclosures and, in consultation as needed with the President, reviews the list against the Council Meeting agenda and the responsibilities of their position to determine possible conflicts/dualities, seeking the guidance of the Ethics Advisory Committee as needed.

    2. Once in a leadership position, ASBMR Leaders are expected to identify, consult with the EAC, and resolve, or eliminate, any conflicts and dualities of interest that arise during their term of office.

    3. ASBMR Leaders are expected to engage in advance review of their meeting agendas, manuscript assignments, program proposals and any and all other specific responsibilities they are undertaking or being assigned, in order to fully declare and disclose verbally any actual or apparent conflict/duality of interest issues.

    4. In every instance in which an ASBMR Leader has a conflict or duality of interest regarding a particular transaction (e.g., any specific decision or action), the ASBMR Leader is required to:

    a) Declare the conflict to the ASBMR group within which they are working;

    b) As determined by the group, the Leader must be recused from the balance of any discussion about the matter comprising the conflict; and,

    c) Refrain from voting on the matter comprising the conflict.

    5. Handling Suddenly Identified Conflicts. Council members, Committee and Subcommittee Chairs might face a situation where they must deal with an actual or apparent conflict of interest that is suddenly identified during the course of a meeting. For example, during a meeting someone might realize that a relative, or a close institutional colleague, or a former institutional colleague, or a distant institutional colleague, is under consideration for a Society benefit. The decision might involve a key presentation at the annual meeting, publication of an article in a society journal, or recognition for a prize. The conflict must be addressed in real time even if there is no opportunity to consult the EAC. In such cases, the actual or apparent conflict must first be disclosed, ideally by the person who has the conflict but otherwise by anyone in attendance who has knowledge of it. Then the chair of the committee must consult with its members, without the potentially conflicted person present. Should the conflict pertain to the chair, then the committee shall consider the issue without the chair present. The group must determine: (a) the extent, if at all, the leader can participate in the discussion of the matter; and, (b) whether the leader can participate in the voting or other decision-making on the matter. All such conflicts and their resolutions shall be noted in the minutes.

    6. ASBMR Leaders with conflicts/dualities of interest must recuse themselves from any discussion related to any matter related to their conflict.

    7. In the event that a candidate or incumbent ASBMR Leader has widespread conflicts (such as serving as an officer in a competing association, editor of a competing journal, individual or immediate family ownership of many such companies identified above, or conflicting duties) that result in pervasive conflict situations under these rules, recusal may have to be so frequent as to render the individual essentially unavailable for service and therefore ineligible to serve.


    As explained in this Section, some conflict situations pose a conflict that can be resolved only by prohibiting the Leader from engaging in that particular activity or situation.

    For all situations in which the Leader has concerns about a potential conflict, the Leader is advised to consult with the EAC.


    To disclose to the group(s) with which I am working (e.g., Council) every instance in which I have a conflict or duality and, as determined by the group, to recuse myself from the activity, discussion, and/or decision?



    There are certain conflict situations that warrant the same restrictions for all ASBMR Leaders. Most of these situations involve companies operating within the scope of ASBMR’s mission, (e.g., pharmaceutical, medical device, or other companies related to bone, mineral and musculoskeletal diagnostics and therapeutics) referred to here as Bone/Mineral/Musculoskeletal-Related Corporate Entities or just Corporate Entities.

    The rationale for such treatment is that the Society encourages its members to be involved in certain professional and scientific activities and relationships with Corporate Entities that have commercial interests within the scope of ASBMR’s mission.

    The Society believes that it serves the public interest and advances its nonprofit mission by allowing and encouraging the most qualified physicians and scientists to be available to provide non-commercial input, guidance, and support to such Corporate Entities.

    In short, the Society wants its members to be able to provide Corporate Entities with the most qualified expertise and guidance about bone-mineral related scientific issues, as that advances science and serves the public interest.

    >Therefore, ALL ASBMR Leaders may:

     1) Serve as investigators in corporate-supported clinical trials and basic research;

     2) Serve on data safety monitoring boards; and,

     3) Serve on corporate advisory boards.


    In contrast, there are a number of situations and activities that are not acceptable for any ASBMR Leader to engage in. The concern with the following situations is that the proposed activity, relationship, or position unduly promotes the commercial interests of a Bone/Mineral/Musculoskeletal-Related Corporate Entity.

    The first three situations (5-7) involve, or may be perceived as involving, unjustified and undeserved alignment with and promotion of the Corporate Entities’ commercial interests. For all four situations, ASBMR and its Leaders are not permitted to use the ASBMR name or their position either to promote commercial interests or to take unauthorized positions on issues.

    >Therefore, NO ASBMR Leaders may:

    (4) Use their position to promote corporate entities;

    (5) Take ASBMR-related actions that affect the value of a corporate entity in which the Leader has a financial interest;

    (6) Use or to allow others to use, their name and/or ASBMR status to endorse or support corporate interests; or,

    (7) Identify their ASBMR leadership positions in regular communications, in email signatures, or in any other manner that gives the false impression that the Leader is representing ASBMR or its views, unless it relates to ASBMR-approved positions or official purposes. If identified in unauthorized situations, the Leaders are expected to clarify that they are not representing the views or speaking on behalf, of ASBMR.

    LEADERS IN POSITIONS WITH GREATER UNILATERAL INFLUENCE ARE NOT PERMITTED TO SPEAK PUBLICLY ON BEHALF OF INDUSTRY: These restrictions apply to the President, Officers, Councilors, Editors-in-Chief, Chairs and Members of Clinical Task Forces, the Professional Practice Committee and the Program Committee. (8,13,14,15,18)

    More restrictions apply to the ASBMR President, the Officers, Councilors, Editors in Chief, and certain Task Force and Committee Members. These Leaders are in positions with greater influence over the Society’s decisions and allocation of resources and opportunities than other ASBMR Leaders. For example, Editors-in-Chief have more influence over publications than Deputy Editors and Associate Editors. Similarly, the Chairs and Members of Clinical Task Forces, the Professional Practice Committee, and the Program Committee have more influence on clinical issues than the Chairs and Members of the other ASBMR Task Forces, Committees, ASBMR Representatives to other organizations, and ASBMR Journal Editorial Board members. In particular, the Program Committee may have greater opportunities to offer or deny representation on programs. Further, the influence of the ASBMR name, especially when used in connection with actions or positions taken by its senior leaders, might influence patient care so it is critical that they not be seen as biased toward industry.

    >Therefore, the President, Officers, Councilors, Editors-in-Chief, and Chairs and Members of Clinical Task Forces, the Professional Practice Committee, and the Program Committee may NOT:

    (8) Testify before or submit presentations to federal or other national or international agencies on behalf of Bone/Mineral-Related Corporate Entities. This prohibition is in place to avoid showing alignment between Corporate Entities and prominent ASBMR Leaders. Other Committee and Subcommittee Chairs and Members may be permitted to testify if approved by the EAC, unless the testimony is within the scope of the ASBMR mission.

    (9) Serve as chair of a Bone/Mineral-Related Corporate Entity corporate advisory board.



    (10) No ASBMR Leader is permitted to have a conflicting duty to another organization and not resolve it. Any conflicting duty must be disclosed, and referred to the EAC for review and for determination as to the process for resolution.

    Other situations, noted as (12) and (13) on the COI Chart, create irreconcilable conflicts with other scientific associations for specific senior-level ASBMR Leaders. 

    One conflict situation pertains to the need to protect the Society’s strategic planning and confidential information. This pertains to those ASBMR Leaders who attend Council meetings. Those senior ASBMR Leaders have an irreconcilable conflict that would prevent them from serving as officers or directors in competing organizations that would be engaged in strategic planning and confidential communications intended to secure their own resources.  This specific restriction is:

    (11) Officers or directors in another organization that: (a) has a mission that overlaps with ASBMR; and, (b) may be in competition with ASBMR for financial resources are not permitted to serve as ASBMR leaders who typically attend ASBMR Council meetings.   The concern here is that the Leaders who attend Council (including Officers and Councilors, Editors in Chief of JBMR, JBMR Plus, and the Primer, Committee and Subcommittee Chairs) are privy to and participate in ASBMR strategic planning.  This restriction does not apply to Task Force Chairs or members because they do not attend Council meetings.  It is therefore an unresolvable conflict for ASBMR Officers, Directors, and Editors-in-Chief, Committee and Subcommittee Chairs to serve as officers or directors in organizations that pursue missions that overlap with ASBMR’s mission and that compete for resources with ASBMR. This restriction does not apply to small regional/local organizations that support bone and mineral research or small focused meetings (e.g. AIM) but to large national and international organizations such as NOF, ISCD, ECTS, and IOF.

    (12) Similarly, ASBMR Leaders who attend Council meeting may not serve as Editors-in-chief for competing journals.  ASBMR cannot have the editor-in-chief of a competing journal serving in a capacity that lets them attend Council meetings and be privy to strategic planning, budgeting, and confidential information and discussions.  

    To explain further, ASBMR’s Journals are a valuable, strategic, and revenue-producing resource for ASBMR.  ASBMR Leaders, including the President, Officers, Councilors, Editors-in-Chief, Committee and Subcommittee Chairs attend Council meetings and are therefore privy to ASBMR strategic planning, confidential information, and competitive discussions.  Editors-in-Chief of other Bone/Mineral/Musculoskeletal-related journals whose mission overlaps with the ASBMR’s mission present an irreconcilable conflict.  This restriction does not apply to ASBMR committee members, Task Force Chairs or members, ASBMR representatives to other organizations or editorial board members of ASBMR’s journals because they do not attend Council meetings. 


    As explained above, the Society wants its member experts to be available to advance the understanding and application of science, without creating impermissible conflicts.  Toward that goal, the Society has determined that:

    (13) ASBMR Leaders are permitted to give internal presentations to Bone/Mineral-Related Corporate Entities that pay speaker fees, honoraria or expense reimbursement.

    In this situation, the Leaders are educating their industry colleagues and are not making public presentations that could be viewed as aligned with any Corporate Entity.

    In contrast, as explained further in conflict situations (14), (15), and (16), ASBMR Leaders in senior positions are not to be selected by, or receive direct payments from, Corporate Entities for speaking activities.

    The President, Officers, Councilors, Editors-in-Chief, and Chairs and Members of Clinical Task Forces, the Professional Practice Committee, and the Program Committee may NOT:

    (14) Speak at symposia or programs sponsored by Corporate Entities at the ASBMR Annual Meeting. The concern here is that speakers selected by the Corporate Entity may be appear to be aligned with the Corporate Entity, whether actually or just apparently, versus when speakers are not selected by a Corporate Entity. Other ASBMR Leaders are permitted to speak at such programs but may not have their position with ASBMR identified.

    (15) Receive speaker fees, honoraria or expense reimbursement DIRECTLY from a Bone/Mineral-Related Corporate Entity to speak at commercially supported meetings. They are permitted to receive indirect payment that goes to the Leader’s institution or the organization hosting the event (e.g., hospital, university, society, CME company), and then is remitted to the Leader for such speaking engagements. However, even when such speaking engagements are permitted, the Leader’s position with ASBMR is not to be identified.

    (16) Receive speaker fees, honoraria or expense reimbursement DIRECTLY from a Bone/Mineral-Related Corporate Entity for speaking to clinicians or patients on issues within the scope of the ASBMR mission. ASBMR Leaders are permitted to receive indirect payment that goes to the Leader’s institution or the organization hosting the event (e.g., hospital, university, society, CME company), and then to the Leader for such speaking engagements. Even when such speaking engagements are permitted, the Leader’s position with ASBMR is not to be identified.


    As noted above, the ability to resolve certain conflicts varies by leadership position, depending on the extent to which they can influence certain decisions (e.g., selection of a key conference sponsor, selection of a favorable journal article, positive resolution of task force review). Some Leadership positions - such as editorial board members and ASBMR representatives to other organizations - however important they are, do not present the same opportunity for favoritism. As with other conflicts, the most stringent restrictions apply to the ASBMR Leaders with the greatest opportunity to take unilateral action or to have a disproportionate effect on a decision or situation.

    >Therefore, the President, Officers, Editors-in-Chief, and Clinical Task Force, Program Committee, and Professional Practice Committee Chairs and Members are NOT PERMITTED:

    (17) To directly own, or for their immediate family (spouse and dependent children)  to directly own more than $15,000 in publicly-traded stock or equity rights in any Bone/Mineral-Related Corporate Entity or any amount of stock in a privately-held Bone/Mineral-Related Corporate Entity.  Mutual funds or other grouped or indirectly-held investments are not included in this prohibition.

    (18) To receive or for their immediate family (spouse and dependent children) to receive more than $15,000 in direct value (e.g. salary, stock options, other remuneration, dividends, royalties, travel) from any Bone/Mineral-Related Corporate Entity in the prior 12 months. 

    Any ASBMR Leader with either of these two conflicts must seek EAC guidance and approval.  The EAC will determine how the conflict will be handled based on the Public Health Service guidance, summarized below.

    These Conflicts (17 and 18) originate from the Public Health Service conflict of interest rules that apply to NIH research.  Those rules focus on the extent to which the person receiving value is responsible for the conduct of, or in a position to determine or influence, the funded research.  Applied here, these restrictions are intended to focus on the extent to which an ASBMR Leader is responsible for the conduct of, or in a position to determine or influence, a particular activity or decision

    The greatest concerns pertain to those who have a specific role or greater opportunity to develop positions that relate to the practice of favoritism or allocation of benefits, particularly regarding patient care. For such senior level leaders, the conflict is regarded more strictly.

    The severity of these two conflicts is judged according to following factors and rationale:

    a) How much influence or ability the conflicted ASBMR leader has over the decision being made;

    b) The amount or value the ASBMR Leader has in the company (e.g., $15,000 in stock or cash or $500,000 in stock or cash);

    c) The extent to which the conflict presents an opportunity for a benefit that would influence the ASBMR Leader’s conduct; and,

    d) Whether the conflict is more acute when one receives value directly (e.g., in cash) versus indirectly (e.g., owning .001% of a company in stock).

    (a) Ability to Influence an ASBMR Decision.                                                                                                                               

    Individuals who serve as a non-clinical Committee or Subcommittee Chair, non-clinical Task Force chair or member, as a Deputy or Associate Editor are not in a position to overly influence the conduct or outcome of a decision in their position of service. As with any conflict situation, they must still declare a conflict (e.g. “my daughter is employed by a particular Bone-related company,” or “I have $15,000 in stock on a Bone-related company”) but their receipt or holding of such value would not render them ineligible to serve in those positions.                                                                                                                                                                                           

    In contrast, the ASBMR President, Officers, Councilors, Program Chairs, Program Committee members, Professional Practice Committee members, and Editors-in-Chief have considerable responsibility and influence over the decisions they participate in. Accordingly, the presumption is that those individuals cannot qualify for their positions if they or their immediate families, hold or receive more than $15,000 in payments or stock in a Bone-related entity. However, as explained below, this is just a presumption, and the ultimate decision is up to the EAC based on the factors explained here.

    (b) Ownership Value Versus Receipt of Direct Payments. The direct receipt of value (cash payments) is viewed as a greater concern than the indirect value (stock ownership).  ASBMR Leaders and the EAC should view such conflicts more strictly when funds are received directly, which is why Councilors are included as “No” under Conflict #18 and “Yes” under Conflict #17.  It takes more assurance to overcome the presumption that receipt of $15,000 disqualifies the Leader than to overcome a presumption that holding $15,000 would. 

    (c) Financial Extent of the Conflict. The value owned or received ($15,000 vs. $500,000) is a relevant factor when assessing a presumption.  Greater value creates a greater benefit and potentially more influence over an action or a decision.  Moreover, it can create an unwanted and unacceptable appearance that a senior ASBMR leader in a position of influence is inclined to favor (or disfavor) a certain bone-related company. 

    (d) Potential Benefit to the ASBMR Leader. The potential benefit to the Leader is relevant. The value of the situation to the ASBMR Leader could be so minimal or attenuated so as to reduce its potential impact on decision-making.

    Applying those factors, for example, a financial interest pertaining to a small Bone-related company that has no anticipated or potential role in ASBMR activities (and whose competitors also do not), represents a minimal risk of impact on the Leader’s decision-making. 

    Another example might be an ASBMR Leader with a dependent child who is paid more than $15,000 per year working as a stock-person at a bone-related Pharma warehouse. That falls within Conflict #18. But the EAC could see that situation as not constituting a significant enough interest to influence the Leader because nothing that Leader can do will have any real influence in benefitting the Leader’s child. In such a situation the EAC could decide to allow the covered ASBMR Leader to serve or to continue to serve with receipt of such value.  But these factors apply interdependently.  If significant outside value is received by the Leader’s child (e.g., daughter gets paid $100,000 plus bonuses as a junior Pharma VP), the Leader’s actions at ASBMR could potentially benefit the Leader’s child.  Even if the Leader’s actions are deemed unlikely to benefit the child (or the child’s employer), the EAC could still determine that there is a serious enough appearance of the conflict to prohibit receipt of the value (or disqualify the Leader’s from service in that ASBMR capacity).

    Taken together, all ASBMR leaders must disclose situations in which they own or receive value of more than $15,000 from Corporate Entities. ASBMR leaders in such situations will at a minimum be required to recuse themselves from the balance of discussions and decisions.  But the Leaders whose positions involve the exercise of significant discretion or influence over allocating or withholding assets or benefits of the Society will likely be DISQUALIFIED from holding their positions while owning or receiving more than $15,000 in the Corporate Entities.


    Serving as an expert witness or consultant aligns, or at a minimum is perceived as aligning, the ASBMR Leader with the interests of the company involved.

     >Therefore, except as noted below, the President, Officers, Councilors, Editors-in-Chief, and the Chairs and Members of Clinical Task Forces, the Professional Practice Committee, and the Program Committee are NOT PERMITTED:

    (19) To serve as an expert witness or consultant on a legal case within the scope of the ASBMR mission, particularly product liability cases. Any ASBMR Leader with this conflict must seek EAC guidance and approval, based on the following concerns.

    Consulting or testifying in patent cases involving drugs used to treat common diseases within in the ASBMR mission or in product liability cases within the ASBMR mission are conflicts that are not allowed under any circumstances. However, the EAC can allow otherwise restricted ASBMR Leaders to serve as expert consultants or witnesses in patent or medical malpractice cases unrelated to the ASBMR mission. For example, the EAC could approve consulting or testifying about non-clinical patents, such as tests or machines, or basic science applications, or concerning medical malpractice cases unrelated to diseases in the ASBMR mission. The EAC might also approve consulting or testifying about the approach to rare bone diseases, even though they are related to the ASBMR mission, because there are relatively few scientists with this expertise and rare bone diseases affect relatively few people, compared to more common bone and mineral diseases such as osteoporosis or primary hyperparathyroidism.


    It is a direct conflict of interest for the most senior ASBMR Leaders to do business with ASBMR.  It creates the reality, and certainly also the appearance, that with their influence they have directed or diverted Society assets to their personal benefit.

    >Therefore, the President, Officers, and Councilors are NOT PERMITTED:

    (20) To own, or for their immediate family (spouse and dependent children) to own, any amount of a corporate entity providing direct service (e.g., consulting, IT) to the ASBMR.


    This Conflict of Interest Policy and the Conflict of Interest Chart are intended to give notice and direction as to the situations in which ASBMR Leaders have a conflict and whether and how such conflicts can be resolved. 

    Please remember that in every conflict situation, ASBMR Leader are required to disclose the conflict and abide by the decision of the unconflicted Leaders to refrain from the balance of discussion and from voting on the matter.  With any questions, and particularly when directed by the Policy and the Chart, the EAC should be consulted.

    Following these rules will help preserve the trust that ASBMR members, ASBMR funders, and the general public have in the Society’s process of governance and decision-making.

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