ACNP Congressional Education Day
ACNP has begun to take an increasingly proactive role in educating Congress about its mission and the importance of adequate funding for research. Drs. Lewis Judd and David Kupfer, together with ACNP President Carol Tamminga will contact you shortly to invite you to participate in a new legislative effort, an ACNP Congressional Education Day. This event is scheduled for Wednesday, April 21, 2004. ACNP will host an orientation session from 5-7 pm on Tuesday, April 20, 2004. At that session, we will provide information on the advocacy process, familiarize participants with leave-behind informational materials and use the time to develop further the message we will take to each office. Although ACNP does not reimburse expenses for this day, participation will be considered service to the College, which is an important component when reviewing ACNP members' status for promotions.
ACNP will also hold its annual Capitol Hill breakfast briefing on Wednesday morning from 8:45am to 9:45am. Dr. Steve Hyman, Provost at Harvard University and most recently director of the National Institute of Mental Health will be joined by a distinguished panel of ACNP members to speak about the impact of terrorism on the brain and behaviour. The briefing will be held on Capitol Hill in room HC-6.
NIH Blue Ribbon Panel on Conflict of Interest Policies Holds Its First Meeting
The NIH Blue Ribbon Panel on Conflict of Interest Policies (panel) held its first meeting March 1 and 2. The focus of the Monday meeting was federal ethics policies governing conflict of interest (COI). The Tuesday meeting emphasized technology transfer policies and procedures.
NIH Director Elias Zerhouni opened the panel meeting. He reminded the panel that part of NIH's mission is to translate research to the public and the current system is designed to facilitate that goal. He warned against blanket solutions that jeopardized that mission.
Stuart Rick, deputy general counsel from the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), outlined current federal polices governing COI. HHS operates under an executive order to strive for uniformity to prevent one agency from claiming to be "more ethical" than another. Rick then announced high-level NIH scientists would now be required to publicly disclose income gained from outside employers; this rule previously was applied only to directors at the institutes.
While there has been some discussion on Capitol Hill of following FDA's more stringent COI rules, Edgar M. Swindell, associate general counsel at HHS, pointed out there is a difference between the FDA, which regulates the industry and NIH, which conducts research. He does not believe FDA's ethics model is applicable to NIH.
Panel member Dr. Phillip Pizzo, who serves as dean of the medical school at Stanford, asked where human subject research was in the discussion of COI. Dr. Raynard Kington, deputy director of NIH responded that patient protection is the core of everything done at NIH. Holli Beckerman Jaffe, an NIH ethics officer, elaborated saying the protections put in place are designed to "kick in" before the issue would come up in a clinical trial.
During the second day's discussion of technology transfer, Barbara McGarey, an NIH legal advisor explained the cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) NIH had established to help transfer research to the marketplace. The process, which partners private companies with NIH researchers, has yielded millions of dollars for NIH. McGarey admits NIH could obtain much more lucrative contracts with these companies, but "we do not choose [these partners] based on the highest bidder."
McGarey pointed to blockbuster drugs including Taxol, AIDS drugs and the HIV test kits, which she believes would not be on the market without CRADAs. When asked about the tremendous profit companies earned from some of these drugs, McGarey said there is nothing in the law that allows NIH to set prices on these drugs once they are developed.
Augustine asked McGarey to provide for the next panel meeting information on how the current policies affect recruitment and retention of top scientists.
Zerhouni asked the panel to submit its recommendations by early May.
The future of medical and scientific research with animals may be decided in the next few years.
The animal rights movement (ARM) which is opposed to the involvement of any animal in any research has achieved a significant presence in our schools, under the benign guise of “human information presentations.” It has also made influential inroads into law schools, where “animal rights” has been introduced into the curriculum of many of the country’s best programs. Of concern on the international scene is Cambridge University’s recent decision to cancel construction of its much-anticipated primate facility in response to the escalating opposition of the ARM.
Professional organizations such as ours have a duty to make our voices heard now if we are to enjoy the freedom to continue our research and work toward the alleviation of human suffering. There are several key issues that the ACNP Animal Use Committee would like to address in the coming year, and any input from our membership would be highly appreciated as we move forward with our agenda.
Among the many issues that the committee wishes to address is the urgent and pressing need for public education. It is critically important to promote public understanding, appreciation and support for the vital importance of animal research in advancing medicine. Each member should seek to identify and use every opportunity to deliver this message. When a scientific breakthrough is covered in the media, a simple statement about the role of animal research in the achievement of this breakthrough could have a significant impact on the public. Lectures given to undergraduates and to medical students should emphasize how animal research has contributed to advancing our knowledge. In my own undergraduate course, I dedicate a lecture to animal research and the threat posed by the ARM. The committee is currently assembling information and PowerPoint slides that may be used in such a lecture and any material that the membership may wish to contribute to this cause may be sent to me (Grace@bns.pitt.edu).
One shining star in support of animal research is the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR). This is the only national non-profit organization that is dedicated to advocating for sound public policy relating to the use of animals in research. A particularly important contribution of NABR is its ability to intervene in “crisis management.” If animal extremists have orchestrated a media attack on your organization, securing the timely involvement of NABR can often defuse the situation before it becomes unmanageable. NABR also cautions us on the titles that we choose in submitting grants – remember, key words like “stress” and “pain” can be easily searched by anyone by accessing the NIH grants database. NABR’s role is particularly important in light of the proposed legislation that would give animals the same legal rights as “personhood.” Such legislation, if passed by Congress, would empower any individual or group to sue on behalf of an animal. Unfortunately, given the limitations of lobbying groups in congress, NABR is woefully under-funded. This is particularly tragic as it is the only means through which companies may anonymously fund a group to speak on behalf of animal research. We should now be well aware that the modest investment required to combat the threat of this type of legislation is extremely small when compared to the multi-millions that will be required to deal with the consequences of the legislation, if it is passed. I urge those of you that may have influence in this regard to encourage support of NABR for the future of animal research.
We have a strong committee that is dedicated to pursuing our goals in advocating animal research. But we would of course welcome any suggestions or contributions from our membership. This is a goal that requires each of us to do our part if we wish to succeed.
Call For Proposals
ACNP to Review Poster Abstracts This Year
ACNP President Carol Tamminga and Program Committee Chair Nancy Andreasen will appoint a committee to review poster abstracts for the 2004 annual meeting. The committee will be looking for original data in the posters. They will be verifying that the posters are in compliance with our poster guidelines and that they are not of a commercial or promotional nature. This year members who sponsor posters will be required to verify to the Secretariat that they have sponsored the poster and that they can vouch for the quality of the poster according to the criteria specified in the poster guidelines. Those guidelines are presented in detail at (poster guidelines).
The Honorific Awards Committee encourages you to nominate candidates for the following awards: a) Efron Research Award b) Elkes Research Award c) Hoch Distinguished Service Award d) Axelrod Mentorship Award and e) Media Award. Details regarding each of these awards are available online at www.acnp.org or click on the links listed below.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is accepting nominations for the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat Award in Mental Health. The international award recognizes individuals, groups, or organizations for outstanding achievement in improving mental health, and is accompanied by a medal a $20,000. Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat established the award in 1991 out of a commitment to improving the science base and delivery of mental health services. The purpose of the Sarnat Prize is to recognize:
Any individual or organization may submit nominations. Nominations should be accompanied by a detailed written description of the accomplishments of the nominee, and an explanation of why those accomplishments merit the Sarnat Award. Nominations should not exceed 4 pages in length. A select bibliography (up to 10 publications) or other documentation of accomplishments will greatly aid the selection process. Only written material will be considered. Letters of endorsement in addition to the nomination are not necessary, and will not be considered.