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NIH under the microscope

Congressional committee begins inquiry into money management and oversight.

Ted Agres(tagres@lycos.com)

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has launched an inquiry into how the National Institutes of Health (NIH) manages the billions of dollars in federal funds it receives annually to sponsor research and conduct its own operations.

Committee Chairman W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-La) and James C. Greenwood (R- Penn), chairman of the subcommittee on oversight and investigations, informed NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni of the probe last week. "Given these significant budget increases over the past five years, the NIH-admitted need for confidence building, and the public interest in wise management of government resources, the committee is conducting an examination of NIH management and oversight of its federally-funded research," they wrote in a March 13 letter.

The inquiry breaks a bit with tradition, for while the House Energy and Commerce committee and its counterpart in the Senate—the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions—have oversight over NIH, they have...

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