In response to my recent note about the miscalculations in the relationship between Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos with the AACC (see: Major Miscalculations by the AACC Regarding Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos), I received the following two reader comments with the same response:
Well said. I agree completely. I wonder how many of the AACC decision makers have received remuneration from Theranos?
Well said. Look for the $! Very damaging to the AACC.
For me, the favoritism that the AACC leadership and planners of the annual meeting have shown toward Holmes is inexplicable. Although the incentive for the Holmes invitation could be attributed solely toward stimulating registration for the annual meeting, I think that there may be an additional explanation. In my blog note, I wrote the following: There also needs to be some additional investigation of the remuneration, if any, the AACC received in exchange for inviting her to speak.
As the two reader comments above suggest, it's possible that some member(s) of the organization may have had some "special" relationship with Theranos or that Theranos provided some financial remuneration to the AACC to pave the way for the Holmes invitation. I have no idea whether this is a the case but the comments cited above do raise the question of what constitutes conflict-of-interest (COI) for members of professional societies when they participate in the selection of speakers for a conference.
I need to first state that nearly all lab professionals who volunteer to work with societies on various activities and meetings have some sort of relationship with vendors of lab products and services but most often without financial remuneration. Most will be customers of some of the conference exhibitors. Hence, it would be impossible to exclude volunteer participation in the conference planning process on this basis. Currently, all professional societies require disclosure of vendor relationships by conference faculty if a company or its product are addressed in the faculty member's lecture.
I don't know if these faculty COI rules are enforced by societies regarding members of planning committees. If in force, such rules would probably require disclosure of all remunerative or investment relationships with companies in conference brochures and other materials. I use the word all here because planning committee members will be responsible for selecting conference faculty members. Unlike the latter, they have relatively little control over the content of the faculty lectures. Therefore, disclosure of all remunerative or investment relationships for them would be necessary.