The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is extending the comment period for a proposed rule that would amend the regulations on potential conflicts of interest among agency-funded researchers. The comment period has been extended until Aug. 19, 2010, to allow further comments on whether the proposed changes should be further revised and clarified. Comments may be submitted electronically to the Federal Rulemaking Portal:

The added requirements will append the NIH’s May 20 proposed new conflict of interest disclosure requirements for its researchers that would lower the current minimum financial interest disclosure from $10,000 to $5,000. University medical schools or other institutions employing researchers also would be required to report the sums using a range of values and post them on their website. Under the new rule, individual institutions would be responsible for deciding whether a relationship constitutes a conflict of interest.

The change was prompted by a conflict of interest investigation involving a psychiatrist who failed to disclose more than $1 million in drug company payments while posted at Atlanta-based Emory University, but who sought new NIH grants when he relocated to University of Miami.