NIH Official Tells House Panel He Supports Restoring Funds to 3 University Programs

September 25, 2007

Washington — The acting director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences said this afternoon that he supported the full restoration of funds to several university-based programs that had been cut by his embattled predecessor, who remains on temporary leave after allegations of mismanagement and misconduct. The support for renewed funds came from the acting director, Samuel H. Wilson, at a subcommittee hearing of the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Dr. Wilson said he supported restoring funds for the Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Centers program, the Community-Based Participation Research program, and the Environmental Health Sciences as an Integrative Context for Learning program. Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat and the panel’s chairman, said funds for those programs had been slashed by $894,000, $3.12-million, and $2.42-million, respectively.

The idea to cut the programs’ budgets was advanced by the director now on leave, David A. Schwartz, who sought in a strategic plan for 2006 to 2011 to shift money to more multidisciplinary, disease-oriented research.

Dr. Schwartz recently came under scrutiny from the committee, as well as from Sen. Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican. Senator Grassley accused Dr. Schwartz of meddling in grant awards, not clearly breaking his ties with his former employer, Duke University, and excessive personal spending. Dr. Schwartz did not testify, and his alleged misconduct was not discussed, but members of the panel expressed interest in holding a future hearing to talk with him. —JJ Hermes