NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
March 8, 2005 • Volume 2 / Number 10 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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Community UpdateCommunity Update

How Will New Ethics Guidelines Affect NCI's
Relationships with the Cancer Community?

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The release last month of new conflict-of-interest guidelines for NIH researchers and staff has generated questions throughout the cancer community about how relationships with NCI intramural scientists may change. NCI Director Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach emphasized that NCI scientists will be able “to continue to pursue these critical relationships and, in fact, find new avenues for partnerships, collaboration, and cooperation as official duty activities.”

“As a dynamic research institution, we will continue the tradition of supporting and encouraging collaborative research,” commented Dr. Robert Wiltrout, director of NCI’s Center for Cancer Research (CCR). “Although there have been new policies relating to conflict-of-interest review, CCR is committed to using all of the available official duty mechanisms to ensure that our researchers maintain their traditional research interactions with industry and academia.

“Our researchers remain ready to fully participate in collaborations through a variety of well-established collaborative mechanisms such as Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), Clinical Trial Agreements (CTAs), and Material Transfer Agreements, while continuing to look for additional mechanisms to facilitate research interactions,” Dr. Wiltrout continued. “The new rules and regulations retained most of the existing flexibility in regard to maintaining and engaging in official duty activities outlined in the February 22 NIH Catalyst. CCR will continue to use these mechanisms to ensure future collaborative research successes.”

The partnerships NCI pursues as official duty activities are designed to take the comparatively early findings coming out of NCI, help them mature, move forward, and eventually become commercial treatments and products that benefit the public health. As long as an activity is consistent with their official duties, NIH researchers can continue to participate in collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotech companies and academic research centers. With the appropriate clearances, NIH researchers will also be able to maintain memberships on committees and boards of professional associations.

In addition, as part of official duties, NIH researchers will still be able to:

  • Present research at scientific conferences and through publication
  • Lecture or conduct a workshop on their research at appropriate venues
  • Exchange research materials
  • Edit publications
  • Hold a patent and receive royalties from an invention arising from NIH work

A tighter standard applies to some activities - such as writing or editing a peer-reviewed scientific publication and teaching Continuing Medical Education courses - for which scientists can still be paid to perform in a personal capacity, subject to funding source.

“Clearly these regulations are bringing about some significant changes at NCI and NIH,” acknowledged Dr. Wiltrout. “But as far as our researchers’ official interactions with others who are affected by what we do here, NCI researchers will continue to be active collaborators and participants.”