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NIH Withholds DNA Research Funds From Professor Who Filed Late Form

By Erik J. Dahl

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) informed Medical School officials Wednesday it is withholding a Harvard professor's funds for recombinant DNA research because he failed to obtain NIH certification for his laboratory.

Because Dr. Charles A. Thomas Jr., professor of Biological Chemistry, did not file a Memo of Understanding and Agreement (MUA) with NIH officials by the November 15 deadline, he will not be able to use his funds for recombinant DNA research, although they may be used for other research.

Thomas was not available for comment last night.

Arthur Heming, associate director of the General Sciences Division of NIH, the division that originally gave the grant to Thomas, wrote a letter Wednesday to Henry C. Meadow, senior associate dean for administration at the Med School, explaining the NIH decision.

The NIH first realized last week that it did not have an MUA statement on file from Thomas, after the Environmental Defense Fund, a consumer action group, asked that it investigate the possibility that Thomas's research had violated NIH guidelines, Dr. Bernard Talbot, special assistant for intramural affairs at NIH, said yesterday.

The MUA is a statement by which a scientist doing recombinant DNA research agrees that he or she will only perform the research in accordance with guidelines that the NIH published last year.

The NIH sent a three-member visiting committee to Harvard last Monday to investigate why an MUA had not been received.

The committee found that Thomas had actually filed an MUA with Harvard officials on November 2, but the statement did not reach the NIH until December 9, too late to be considered before the request for information came from the Environmental Defense Fund.


Another NIH staff member will return to Harvard next week to prepare a report on why Thomas's MUA had been delayed after he had filed it with Harvard officials, Talbot said.

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