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Time extended for NIH conflict-of-interest rules

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has decided to give the public another month to weigh in on the tightened financial reporting requirements that it proposed in May for its extramural investigators.

The Department of Health and Human Services, NIH’s parent agency, announced on Friday that the public comment period for the proposed rules changes, which was to have ended on 20 July, has been extended to 19 August. Among other things, NIH is asking commentators whether it should “clarify” how the new rules would apply when an investigator changes institutions.

The request is significant because it follows this June article in the Chronicle of HIgher Education documenting how psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff evaded a two-year ban on applying for NIH grants by taking a new job as chair of psychiatry at the University of Miami. Nemeroff had been demoted by Emory University in Atlanta and banned from seeking NIH grants for “at least” two years, after he was found to have flouted financial reporting rules by failing to declare at least $1.2 million in drug company payments.

But, as the Chronicle reported, last summer Tom Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, assured Pascal Goldschmidt, the dean of medicine at Miami, that the ban would not apply to Nemeroff should he move to Miami. Nemeroff took up his new position in Florida last December.

The proposed rules changes apply to NIH-funded investigators at extramural institutions and include a $5,000 minimum threshold for reporting financial interests in any single publicly traded company. Any interest in a privately held company is considered reportable. You can read our coverage of the changes that NIH is proposing here.


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