Washington Update

FASEB Comments on Draft NIH Scientific Integrity Policy

By: Yvette Seger
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
In September, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a Request for Information seeking input on proposed updates to the agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy. Although the NIH updated its Scientific Integrity Policy in 2022, additional updates were needed to ensure alignment with A Framework for Federal Scientific Policy and Practice, a guidance document issued by the Scientific Integrity Framework Interagency Working Group of the National Science and Technology Council in January.

Key updates included information about the role and responsibilities of two new roles – the NIH scientific integrity officer (SIO) and the NIH chief scientist (CS) – as well as the responsibilities of the agency’s Scientific Integrity Council. FASEB’s comments supported NIH’s designation of the associate director for science policy as the agency’s SIO and the principal deputy director as CS, as both align with the overarching goal to emphasize scientific integrity at the highest levels of leadership and existing responsibilities for both positions.

While generally supportive of the responsibilities of the NIH Scientific Integrity Council, in its comments, FASEB suggested that the policy include additional context regarding desired attributes of individuals recruited to serve on the council, including topical expertise, role(s) within an institute or center, and career stage, emphasizing that these updates would reiterate the agency’s commitment to fostering a culture of integrity across scientific activities. Similarly, FASEB also recommended that NIH consider recruiting a small number of external scientists to serve as ad hoc members of the council to expand expertise and to reduce concerns of perceived bias.

Additional comments included ensuring the revised policy incorporates feedback from several related RFIs and proposed rules and further clarification of the definition of “covered individuals” for whom the policy is applicable. NIH accepted feedback on the draft policy through November 9.