Senior scientists and others at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are preparing legal challenges to recently announced ethics regulations barring them from owning stock in drug and biotech companies and from consulting with universities and academic institutions.

The tough ethics regulations, announced February 1 by director Elias A. Zerhouni, "substantially overreach and will severely and irreparably compromise the NIH's mission," wrote the Assembly of Scientists, an organization representing senior NIH intramural researchers.

"These new regulations will discourage talented, innovative scientists from staying at or being recruited to the NIH, and preclude scientists already at the NIH from participating as full members of the scientific community," 18 members of the Assembly of Scientists argued in the February 22 issue of The NIH Catalyst, a newsletter circulated on the Bethesda, Md., campus.

The new rules require most intramural scientists, all senior officials, and those having contracting and grant-making...

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