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Why You Should Care About the University of Miami NIH Scandal

By       Message Martha Rosenberg       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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Some say the incident in which the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) assured the University of Miami's medical school dean if he hired Charles Nemeroff, MD the disgraced researcher, Nemeroff could still pull in government grants is an example of the Old Boy's Network.

NIMH director Thomas Insel, MD assured Pascal Goldschmidt, MD, UM's medical school dean that Nemeroff 's Congressional investigation for unreported drug industry income and NIH's termination of his $9 million grant shouldn't stop the government funding spigot -- even as Insel personally revised NIMH's "conflict of interest" rules.

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(And even as Nemeroff serves on two NIH peer-review advisory panels that decide what? Who receives grant money.)

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Insel presumably "owed" Nemeroff because the former head of psychiatry at Emory got Insel a gig there when he lost his NIH position in 1994 and helped Insel's comeback in 2002 as NIMH director, says the Chronicle of Higher Leaning. Nice revolving doors if you can catch them.

But others say it's an example of the Old Girl's Network since it was UM President Donna Shalala, former Health and Human Services secretary, who allowed the hiring of the poster boy for conflicts of interest without a job posting, national search, search committee or vote from UM psychiatry faculty.

Nor was Sen. Charles Grassely (R-Iowa), whose investigations found Nemeroff failed to disclose $1 million in drug industry income while doing "impartial" government research, amused by a Goldschmidt quote in the Chronicle that dismisses a freeze on Nemeroff-initiated grants at Emory as due to "political pressure."

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(Nemeroff research found the tardive dyskinesia producing Abilify had "excellent" safety.)

While many dispute Nemeroff's character -- he did "science pimping for Paxil," Bernard Carroll, MD former psychiatry head at Duke told the Miami Herald; "I'm not sure if I'd be around today if it weren't for him," says Tom Johnson, former CNN network president and a Nemeroff patient, also in the Herald -- few dispute UM's dire financial straits.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 

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