Strong pressure is being brought to bear on Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials to reverse a May personnel action at the National Institutes of Health. That move, to reassign fraud investigators Walter Stewart and Ned Feder to new jobs, effectively ended the pair's controversial scientific misconduct research at the institutes. Tactics to influence administrators have included a 33-day protest fast by Stewart and letters supporting the two men and their work from prominent members of Congress.

At least partly in response to the rising political pressure, department officials acknowledge, HHS agreed June 3 to review the internal personnel transfer. But there are suggestions that neither the scope of the ongoing inquiry nor its eventual outcome will resolve the controversy. Also, no date has been set for completion of the review.

"Certainly, their assignment and reassignment are matters we're going to look at," says Harriet Rabb, HHS general...

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