NIH may start policing conflicts

Two US Senators have introduced an amendment to the economic stimulus bill currently being debated in Congress that they say would better protect federally-funded biomedical research from potential bias. Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) said in a linkurl:statement;http://grassley.senate.gov/news/Article.cfm?customel_dataPageID_1502=19157 that the amendment centers on how the National Institutes of Health polices financial conflicts among its researcher-grantees. The amendme

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Feb 4, 2009
Two US Senators have introduced an amendment to the economic stimulus bill currently being debated in Congress that they say would better protect federally-funded biomedical research from potential bias. Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) said in a linkurl:statement;http://grassley.senate.gov/news/Article.cfm?customel_dataPageID_1502=19157 that the amendment centers on how the National Institutes of Health polices financial conflicts among its researcher-grantees. The amendment states that the NIH is to "actively enforce its conflict of interest policies and respond in a timely manner when those policies have been violated by grantees." Additionally, grantees receiving more than $250,000 per year in NIH funds (R01 awards allow for up to $250,000 in direct costs per year) would have to disclose to the agency an estimate, to the nearest $1000, of the primary investigator's significant financial interests, and a detailed plan of how the grantee's home institution will manage the conflict. Current NIH rules address conflict of...
rally-funded biomedical research from potential bias. Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) said in a linkurl:statement;http://grassley.senate.gov/news/Article.cfm?customel_dataPageID_1502=19157 that the amendment centers on how the National Institutes of Health polices financial conflicts among its researcher-grantees. The amendment states that the NIH is to "actively enforce its conflict of interest policies and respond in a timely manner when those policies have been violated by grantees." Additionally, grantees receiving more than $250,000 per year in NIH funds (R01 awards allow for up to $250,000 in direct costs per year) would have to disclose to the agency an estimate, to the nearest $1000, of the primary investigator's significant financial interests, and a detailed plan of how the grantee's home institution will manage the conflict. Current NIH rules address conflict of interests among extramural researchers, but place the onus of managing these conflicts on grantee institutions. In recent years, Grassley has uncovered numerous examples where the agency appeared lax in its oversight of financial conflicts among its grantees. "The goal of this initiative is to establish transparency and the accountability that comes from disclosure," said Grassley in a statement. "It's become clear that the federal rules in place to manage conflicts of interest in research aren't enforced as they ought to be, and there's an opportunity to strengthen them here, as well." An amendment that raised the total amount of money that the NIH would get as part of the stimulus bill to $10 billion passed in the Senate earlier this week. Paradoxically, the Congress is not likely to finalize the NIH's 2009 budget until after the economic stimulus bill becomes law, so the agency may get a budget boost before it even resolves its base funding for 2009. "NIH grants are highly competitive," said Kohl in a statement. "The government has a right to know whether the scientists it funds have a financial stake in the outcome of their research." __Correction (02/05/09) - The original version of this story stated as $10 million the proposed bump to the NIH budget currently circulating in the Senate. That figure is $10 billion. __The Scientist__ regrets the error.__
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:NIH to act on conflicts within 1 year;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55264/
[5th December 2008]*linkurl:$500 million NIH funds boost?;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55016/
[17th September 2008]

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