Monday, April 11, 2005

"The Price of NIH Credibility"

An excellent editorial in the Los Angeles Times. Let me just provide some quotes.
  • "Protesting NIH staff scientists and members of Congress opposing the new regulations would have us think [NIH Director] Zerhouni intends to bulldoze the agency's 300-acre campus in Bethesda, MD, and turn it into a garment district sweatshop."
  • "Zerhouni's critics claim that the new rules will lead to a cataclysmic brain drain. Yes, a few people might leave. But the rules also should bolster the agency's status as one of the few places where scientists can work with true autonomy, free from the increasingly brazen control that biomedical industries are exerting over research."
  • "A Government Accountability [sic] Office study released two months ago found that the previous NIH policies 'could call into question the quality and independence of federally funded research.' There could hardly be a better reason for change."
  • "At Senate hearings last week, Sen. Tom Harking (D-Iowa) sided with the complaining scientists and dangled a possible NIH budget increase in an implicit tit-for-tat for softer rules. That's just strong-arming."
  • "Zerhouni is trying to restore scientific credibility to an agency that had allowed one of its top scientists, P. Trey Sutherland III, to pocket half a million dollars from Pfizer Inc. even as he was evaluating Pfizer drugs for NIH. Would [Senator] Harkin want to buy a drug for his family that was developed in this manner?"
Couldn't say it better myself.

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