A former Emory University psychiatrist caught for failing to disclose millions he received from Big Pharma is once again receiving federal grants. The decision to award the grants has sparked criticism from many, including a US Senator.
The federal grant were made 3 months ago to Charles Nemeroff, a former Emory University psychiatrist. Dr. Nemeroff was caught failing to tell his university about at least $1.2 million in consulting income from drug companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline.
The details of the original situation emerged thanks to an investigation by US Senator Chuck Grassley into undisclosed conflicts over concerns that such relationships may unduly influence medical research and practice. In response, the NIH suspended a $9.3 million, five-year grant that Nemeroff held for a depression study at Emory and the university barred him from applying for NIH funding for two years. Nemeroff later left Emory and accepted a job at the University of Miami.
The current controversy was sparked by the NIH’s award of a 5-year, $401,675-a-year grant to study post-traumatic stress disorder. When Senator Grassley heard about the award, he demanded that the National Institutes of Health justify its decision to award the multi-million-dollar research grant to Nemerof. However the National Institutes of Health (NIH) continuing to defend it’s decision.
In an August 3 letter to Senator Grassley, NIH Deputy Director Lawrence Tabak wrote “I want to assure you that all procedures have been followed carefully in the process of awarding this specific grant to the University of Miami.” Tabak continues, “[a]s with all NIH applications, the application from the University of Miami was evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.”
Tabak maintains that the process included vetting Nemeroff for any financial conflicts of interest. He also stated that the NIH reviewers checked with University of Miami officials to ensure the school complies with applicable regulatory requirements.