Conflicts of interest in research and medicine are an important issue and a worthwhile subject for investigation in science journalism. Conflicts of interest arise when researchers, medical doctors or other experts receive monetary benefits (for example for consulting companies), which in turn influence their decisions. This influence has been described in detail scientifically. For example, in medicine, scientific studies show that payments from pharmaceutical companies are associated with a change in prescribing behavior, i.e. doctors can prescribe different drugs that they would otherwise. A comprehensive database for journalistic investigations of conflicts of interest is missing at the moment. Follow the Grant aims to close the gap. We are using conflict of interest statements from scientific articles. Many scientific journals require their authors to disclose such conflicts of interest when publishing scientific articles. We aim to enable journalists to quickly check what potential conflicts of interest a particular expert has. It can also be the foundation for investigative reporting looking at discrepancies in the disclosure of funding and conflicts of interest. Here you can see an example of a story that looked at such discrapancies.
Hristio Boytchev is the founder and project manager of Follow the Grant. He is responsible for the journalistic direction of the project. Hristio is a freelance science and health journalist, focusing on data-driven and investigative reporting. From 2015 to 2017 Hristio was a reporter for the investigative non-profit newsroom Correctiv. In 2016, he was voted third among the science journalists of the year by the jury of Medium Magazine. In 2012, he was an Arthur F. Burns Fellow at the science desk of the Washington Post. Hristio holds graduate degrees in biology and journalism.