WASHINGTON - May 20, 2010 - Senator Chuck Grassley said today that changes proposed today by the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, to its conflict of interest policies for federally funded medical research would be an important step in the right direction.

The NIH has drafted new regulations in response to investigations by Grassley and others that showed that researchers failed to accurately disclose their financial relationships with industry.  The proposal announced today is now open for public comment for 60 days under the federal rulemaking process.

"Disclosure of financial relationships and the resulting accountability have been sorely lacking in federally sponsored research," Grassley said.  "I've worked for greater transparency through legislative reform and administrative changes.  I've urged the NIH to flex its muscle and use the power of its grants, which are prestigious and sizeable, to bring about transparency.  Enforcement of current requirements has been lax, and the federal agency has failed to send a message to grantees that accountability in this area matters."  The NIH awards approximately $24 billion a year in grants for medical research.