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Republicans Interested in Conflicts of Interest

Scientists who receive grants from agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) should not be trusted to “self-regulate” on matters involving a potential conflict of interest, suggests a letter released today by two Republican members of the House Science Committee. Representatives Joe Barton (R–TX) and Greg Walden (R–OR) have asked Acting NIH Director Raynard Kington for comment on this thesis and for a response to an earlier query to NIH, saying that it’s important to see that new funds in the economic stimulus bill are “not compromised by the potential conflicts of interest of researchers.”

The two representatives refer to a controversy over the use of CT scans to detect lung cancer in which scientists on both sides of a debate about the usefulness of this technology were accused of having conflicts of interest. The letter claims NIH has not followed up on questions raised by committee members last year.