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Commentary

Rules Are Killing Good Science
Henry Miller, M.S., M.D., Los Angeles Times, 3-14-05

Miller addresses an issue we have written on quite a bit recently, the backlash against new conflict of interest rules at the National Institutes of Health by NIH employees.

“The National Institutes of Health has used a bazooka to kill a mosquito. And now the NIH is facing a revolt from its scientists, who are suffering collateral damage.”

Miller believes that “requiring that federal employees disclose outside consulting arrangements is entirely appropriate, and an NIH scientist should not hold significant equity in or be an officer of a company that wants to sell something to his agency, or whose product he is testing in a clinical trial.; nor should he receive cash awards from institutions whose grants he can influence.”

However, as long as scientists competently discharge their duties and disclose “extramural activities”, they should “enjoy significant latitude to become involved in outside part-time employment or volunteer work, as is largely the case in academia.”

Miller believes that the new rules are draconian and punitive, and that “America will pay the price if the nation’s preeminent research institution is jeopardized, and its accomplishments diminished.”

In short, “Heaven protect us from the good intentions of bureaucrats.”



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