As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the NIH, and its subcommittee on oversight and investigations, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) has been investigating scientific fraud for over a year. No one questions the subcommittee's legitimate role of investigating fraud and ensuring that public funds are wisely spent. But many object to Dingell's unfair conduct and heavy-handed tactics.
The subcommittee seems to have overstepped its mission as a watchdog of public funds. The recent hearings, held in May, leave the impression that Dingell is presiding over a kangaroo court, not a congressional inquiry.
The Dingell subcommittee has focused specifically on a disputed 1986 paper published in Cell (vol. 45, pages 247-259) and coauthored by David Baltimore, a Nobel laureate. Two university reviews and an official NIH investigation of the paper agree that certain data were misinterpreted but not intentionally misrepresented. All agree that the paper is an...
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