Yesterday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) accusing the agency of trying to circumvent their own conflict of interest policies "by hiring medical experts as contractors rather than full-time employees." Grassley's letter expressed confusion over the contractor's real boss: "Obviously, anyone would be confused about who is Dr. Konstam’s employer -- Tuft’s? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute? Orqis?"
The Boston Globe reported that NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni pledged to "work closely with Grassley and his staff to address the concerns and questions" in the letter.
-- Mandy Smithberger
UPDATE: We just learned that NIH Director Zerhouni will be resigning at the end of next month. We honestly have no idea if his resignation is related to the conflict of interest issue, but we'll keep you updated if we find out more.
The New York Times credits Zerhouni with banning agency scientists from consulting for drug and device companies after many Congressional inquiries into mixing consulting with government research positions.