Conflicts of Interest

The National Institutes of Health recently unveiled new guidelines governing conflicts of interest in biomedical research. These suggestions will be subject to public comment for sixty days.

According to, which published a report on the new regulations, most stakeholders seemed pleased with the move to increased transparency. Everyone from the AAMC to Iowa Senator Charles Grassley applaud the idea of holding institutions accountable for revealing financial ties between researchers and industry.

In an age of eroding public confidence in institutions, it seems crucial that biomedical research remain untainted by the appearance of impropriety. Still, I’m struck by what the additional reporting assumes about the scientific process.

If having a financial stake in the research can affect the study’s outcome, what does it say about the objectivity of science? Are PIs intentionally manipulating data to produce a favorable result, or, are there less conscious ways that bias creeps in?

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