The new NIH regulations that determine how universities should respond to allegations of scientific misconduct (The Scientist, Sept. 4, 1989, page 1) have derailed proposed legislation in Congress. For several months Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) who has explored the issue in numerous hearings involving MIT biologist David Baltimore, has been on the verge of introducing legislation that would force institutions and federal agencies to be more responsive to the issue. But an aide on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which Dingell chairs, acknowledged last month that the new regulations address most of his concerns.
“They do a pretty good job of reflecting our intentions, with the exception of adequate protection for whistleblowers,” the aide noted. ‘They’ve gotten what they wanted—the chance to police themselves—and we’ll be watching to see how well they do in implementing them.”
At the same time, some of Dingell’s colleagues are worried that his efforts may actually be harming the research community. Language accompanying the NH budget in the Senate, for example, states that the appropriations committee will “closely monitor” the new NIH office created to oversee allegations of misconduct to ensure that “it does not hinder the creativity of scientific research.”
Time On Their Hands
Cray Research Inc. is making 2,800 hours of supercomputer time available free to 11 new NSF science and technology centers. The time has been reserved on the new Cray-2 that the company installed in July at MIT, but which is not yet operating at capacity. While the gesture is a bonus for scientists and a financial shot in the arm to NSF, which is already spending $24 million on the centers this year, Cray officials see it as a start of a beautiful relationship. “It’s a way of conveying to these scientists that supercomputing is a critical tool for their work,” says Carlos Marino, director of industry and technology programs for the company. “We hope that some will eventually want to buy their own machine, and we’d be delighted if they chose one of ours.”