Northwestern Names New COI Director

By Roger AndersonApril 2, 2018

Kate Booth has been named director of Northwestern’s Conflict of Interest Office (COI).

Prior to her March promotion, Booth had served as COI interim director for the past five months. She joined the COI Office as a senior compliance analyst in 2013 and had been a senior compliance specialist since April 2016. She earned her doctorate degree in neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh and originally joined Northwestern in 2010 as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Physiology.

“I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to step into this new role as director,” says Booth, who recently completed the Master of Science in Law program at the Pritzker School of Law. “I have been thrilled by the support from colleagues across the University, and look forward to continuing to partner with groups within the Office for Research and throughout Northwestern.”

The Conflict of Interest Office works to protect the integrity of Northwestern research from any implication that decision-making, conduct, or reporting was influenced by external interests or activities. The office does this by identifying potential conflicts of interest and then working with researchers to manage those relationships and create separation between Northwestern research and external activities. 

“While the phrase ‘conflict of interest’ can have a negative connotation, conflicts often arise from something positive,” says Booth. “Starting a company, licensing IP, or being recognized by an industry partner as having specialized expertise are all generally good things that translate research from the lab and out to the public, but can create conflicts that should be carefully managed.”

Within the Office for Research, Booth’s office partners closely with the Office for Sponsored Research, the Institutional Review Board Office, and the Innovation and New Ventures Office to ensure that the University meets regulatory requirements while finding ways to support researchers in their efforts.

“Throughout her time in the COI office, Kate has demonstrated exemplary leadership, collaboration, and deep understanding of the complexities associated with directing compliance activities and programs related to conflict of interest at the individual and institutional level,” says Ann Adams, associate vice president for research. “We are excited that Kate has accepted this leadership position and I look forward to working with her in the future.”