An epidemiologist's move to attend a closed meeting spurs debate over freedom of information versus the right to privacy
WASHINGTON--No grant applicant had ever tried to breach the sanctity of an advisory council at the National Institutes of Health--until last summer, when University of Texas epidemiologist Darwin Labarthe knocked on the door.

Notwithstanding the closed-door policy of the outside panel that advises the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Labarthe told the NHLBI director he intended to hear for himself what this august group of scientific and community leaders thought about his research project, which they had already turned down once. And, Labarthe said, he had the law on his side.

It was the first time in the memory of anyone at the heart institute, or the NIH general counsel's office, that a scientist had attempted to attend the closed segment of one of the council's quarterly meetings. The major...

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