The challenge for NIH ethics policies: Preserving public trust and biomedical progress
Norka Ruiz Bravo, PhD
Deputy Director for Extramural Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
Correspondence: Norka Ruiz Bravo, PhD, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, National Institutes of Health, One Center Drive, Building One, Room 150, Bethesda, MD 20892; email@example.com
Dr. Ruiz Bravo reported that she has no financial interests, relationships, or affiliations that pose a potential conflict of interest with this article.
Recently updated ethics rules for employees of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) aim to prevent inappropriate influences on research decisions while preserving employees' professional and scientific interactions. Specific provisions require NIH employees to report their financial holdings in "substantially affected organizations" and require senior employees to divest all holdings greater than $15,000 in any single such organization. Outside institutions that receive NIH grants are bound by separate disclosure requirements. Public-private partnerships have become more important to NIH efforts to advance biomedical research in light of flat NIH budgets in recent years. Such partnerships open the door, however, to financial conflicts that must be prevented or managed in order to maintain scientific integrity and public trust.