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Pharmalot
Grassley Probes Nemeroff and University of Miami
By Ed Silverman
June 8, 2010

Psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff

Psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff

The Charles Nemeroff affair encompasses more people all the time. Now, the University of Miami Medical School has become ensnared in the ongoing probe launched by US Senator Chuck Grassley, who investigated Nemeroff as part of an inquiry into undisclosed financial conflicts of interest among academic researchers who receive federal grants.

You may recall Nemeroff, who was recently hired by the University of Miami, had departed Emory University after the Senate probe disclosed he was accepting sizeable consulting fees from GlaxoSmithKline at the same time he was the primary investigator on an NIH-funded grant for research into a Glaxo drug. Before his departure, Emory imposed a two-year ban on grants for on Nemeroff. This week, however, the U of Miami med school head, Pascal Goldschmidt, was quoted as saying the ban was “an immediate reaction to political pressure”.

Angered at the remark, Grassley has sent a letter to Donna Shalala, the University of Miami president and a former US Secretary of Health and Human Services to say “I hope that you would agree – contrary to Dr. Goldschmidt’s views that disciplining researchers for failing to disclose conflicts of interest is merely a political issue – that enforcing federal conflict of interest policy iinvolves ethical and legal issues that ensure taxpayer trust.” Grassley wants Shalala to provide all conflict of interest forms filed by Nemeroff, as well as all e-mails and communications by Goldschmidt and Nemeroff’ about conflicts and NIH grants.

But there’s more. Grassley also wrote a letter to HHS Office of Inspector General Dan Levinson to examine the ties between Nemeroff and NIHM director Tom Insel. Insel apparently helped Nemeroff win his job at the University of Miami and Levinson is already investigating Nemeroff. Ironically, the NIH has just proposed new rules on conflicts, although Insel is one of Nemeroff’s long-standing allies and he was on the panel that reviewed the new rules.