Many of the headlines suggested that the proposed ethics rules for NIH employees have been relaxed. But that's not quite true, as Ted Agres pointed out here. The rules on stock ownership have loosened, yes. But the most important restriction remains. That's the one forbidding those who labor at NIH to do outside consulting for businesses with a stake in NIH's labor.These decisions are a smart move for NIH director Elias A. Zerhouni. The previous proposed stock ownership rules were needlessly restrictive on most employees. The new stock rules will please them, yet also retain some restrictions on NIH's most senior people. It looks to be a sensible compromise that will reduce opportunities for mischief while making it somewhat less difficult to recruit world-class scientists. But Zerhouni stood firm against the activities that offer the most serious opportunities for corruption of the scientific process: outside consulting for pharmas, biotechs,...
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