Med School Criticizes NIH Control of Grants
The Medical School has protested to the federal government against increased government supervision of research grants from the National Institutes of Health.
It objected last month to "certain aspects" of the NIH's accounting procedure, which was tightened January 1 to prevent the misuse of funds. Med School officials summarized their objections in a letter to the Public Health Service, the division of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare that runs NIH.
The Medical School administers between $4 million and $6 million worth of NIH research grants a year. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Public Health, and the School of Dental Medicine also receive NIH aid.
Henry C. Meadow, Associate Dean of the Med School, said it did not criticize specific details of the stricter NIH procedures, since it might be possible to reach an understanding with the government on them. Instead, Meadow explained, the school pointed to the general implications of the new plan. He denied that the School feared growing government control over its operations.
Meadow declined further comment on the substance of the Harvard letter on the grounds that it was still being considered by the Public Health Service. He said he expected to hear from the agency in the near future, adding that he thought the Med School's objections "are so well founded that any person of moderate intelligence should take cognizance of them."
Beginning this year, NIH:
* Instituted a system of "work effort reporting" which requires scientists to figure the percentage of their time spent on NIH projects.
* Prohibited the use of medical research funds to support teaching activities, a practice formerly allowed because it was felt that teaching and research could not be strictly separated.
* Required NIH approval for foreign travel undertaken with NIH money.
* Specified that scientists must apply for a new grant if they wish to change the nature of their research.
* Assumed greater responsibility for determining the budgets of individual research projects.
Meadow said that the new regulations would be more expensive for the Med School since they required additional paperwork. He added that he hoped there would be no confusion or difficulty in applying them.