As reported in ScienceInsider, the NIH has issued new rules requiring academic researchers to be more upfront about potential financial conflicts of interest they may have with industry sponsors of research, for example. Universities are also required to be more diligent in ferreting out and reporting such confflicts.
The new rules come out of an ongoing probe by Sen. Charles Grassley of the Senate Finance Committee. The Senator's committee recently uncovered several instances of researchers receiving both NIH funding and support from drug developers - but failing to properly disclose the relationship.
NIH Director, Francis Collins indicated that modern science requires collaboration between academics and industry but that such collaborations "need to preserve the public trust." He further stated that "there clearly have been a few examples in the last few years that...could be perceived as coloring their judgment in projects they were involved in." One prominent example is Charles Nemeroff, Emory University.
Under the new proposal, researchers who have a significant financial conflict (> $5000) need to report the situation to the university or institution employing them under the NIH grant. This lowers the current threshhold from $10,000. The researchers total holding must be reported on the university or institution website. Suspension or termination of funding to the University would be one penalty for non-compliance with new rules.
Full disclosure of conflicts of interest - what a concept? I endorse it!
Posted by Bruce Lehr May 24th 2010.