Two key National Institutes for Health (NIH) executives in positions of influence on decisions about who gets grants from the agency received a total of 77 previously undisclosed royalty payments from outside firms between 2010 and 2014.
The secret royalty payments, which were first reported by The Epoch Times, are among thousands estimated to total at least $350 million paid between 2010 and 2020. Long-time NIH Director Francis Collins received 14 payments, Anthony Fauci, who heads NIH’s National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), received 23, and Clifford Lane, Fauci’s chief deputy, got eight payments.
Acting NIH Director Lawrence Tabak conceded during questioning last week by Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) that the undisclosed royalties have the “appearance of a conflict of interest,” but he insisted that the agency has sufficient internal safeguards to prevent such problems. Federal law and ethics regulations bar federal employees from activities that present either the appearance or an actual conflict of interest.
Dr. Michael Gottesman has been the NIH’s deputy director for intramural research (DDIR) since 1994. According to his official resume on the NIH website, Gottesman “coordinates activities and facilitates cooperation among the 24 Institute- and Center-based Scientific Directors to achieve the scientific, training, and public health missions of the NIH Intramural Research Program.
“He provides guidance for the entire intramural program and reports to [Acting NIH Director Lawrence Tabak]. He oversees and ultimately approves the hiring of all NIH principal investigators, and he is the institutional official responsible for human subjects research protections, research integrity, technology transfer, and animal care and use at the NIH.
“During his tenure as DDIR, Dr. Gottesman has created the post-baccalaureate training program, the Graduate Partnerships Program (which permits graduate students to conduct thesis research at NIH); implemented loan repayment programs; institutionalized an intramural tenure track and new career tracks for clinical investigators; created the NIH Intramural Database (providing online information about all researchers and research at NIH); and spearheaded multiple other programs in the realm of diversity, equity, research integrity, and leadership.”
Gottesman announced in July 2021 his resignation from the DDIR position, pending the selection of his successor. He plans to remain as Chief of the Laboratory of Cell Biology in the NIH’s National Cancer Institute after his DDIR successor is chosen.
Gottesman received 70 royalty payments during the five-year period from 2010 to 2014, according to documents recently obtained by the non-profit government watchdog Open the Books (OTB) as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for extensive data on all payments from 2o10 to the present.
Open the Books is a Chicago-based nonprofit government watchdog that uses the federal and state freedom of information laws to obtain and then post on the internet trillions of dollars in spending at all levels of government.