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NIH Office of the Director (OD)

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Don Ralbovsky

NIH Announces Co-Chairs for Blue Ribbon Panel on Conflict of Interest Policies

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., announced today that Bruce Alberts, Ph.D., and Norman R. Augustine, will co-chair the NIH Blue Ribbon Panel on Conflict of Interest Policies to examine the guidelines governing consulting activities of NIH scientists. Dr. Zerhouni established the Blue Ribbon Panel as a working group of the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), NIH. The Panel will consist of selected members of the ACD, the NIH Director's Council of Public Representatives, and distinguished outside experts, who will be selected in consultation with the co-chairpersons.

Dr. Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), is a respected biochemist recognized for his work in molecular biology. Alberts joined the faculty of Princeton University in 1966, moving to the medical School of the University of California, San Francisco in 1976. In 1980, he was awarded an American Cancer Society Lifetime Research Professorship. In 1985, he was named chair of the UCSF department of biochemistry and biophysics. He was elected NAS president in 1993.

Mr. Augustine currently serves as Chairman of the Executive Committee of Lockheed Martin. Among his many roles in public service, Mr. Augustine served as Under Secretary of the U.S. Army, Chairman of the National Academy of Engineering, Chairman of the American Red Cross, member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and Lecturer with the Rank of Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University's School of Engineering and Applied Science.

In announcing the Blue Ribbon Panel co-chairs, NIH Director Zerhouni said, "I look forward to the Panel's recommendations on how best to ensure complete transparency, full disclosure, independent review, and continuous monitoring of activities." Specifically, the Blue Ribbon Panel's charge is to:

  1. review the existing laws, regulations, policies, and procedures under which NIH currently operates regarding:
    a. real and apparent financial conflict of interest of NIH staff where compensation or financial benefit from outside sources is received, including consulting arrangements and outside awards;
    b. requirements and policies for the reporting of NIH staff's financial interests, including which interests are subject to public disclosure, and what portion of NIH staff file public disclosures;
  2. make recommendations for improving existing laws, regulations, policies, and procedures as appropriate;
  3. complete the review and development of recommendations within 90 days; and
  4. provide recommendations to the Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH, for deliberation and final recommendations to the Director, NIH.

The Office of the Director is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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