FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Why You Should Care About the University of Miami NIH Scandal

Some say the incident in which the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) assured the University of Miami’s medical school dean if he hired Charles Nemeroff, MD the disgraced researcher, Nemeroff could still pull in government grants is an example of the Old Boy’s Network.

NIMH director Thomas Insel, MD assured Pascal Goldschmidt, MD, UM’s medical school dean that Nemeroff ‘s Congressional investigation for unreported drug industry income and NIH’s termination of his $9 million grant shouldn’t stop the government funding spigot — even as Insel personally revised NIMH’s “conflict of interest” rules. (And even as Nemeroff serves on two NIH peer-review advisory panels that decide what? Who receives grant money.)

Insel presumably “owed” Nemeroff because the former head of psychiatry at Emory got Insel a gig there when he lost his NIH position in 1994 and helped Insel’s comeback in 2002 as NIMH director, says the Chronicle of Higher Leaning. Nice revolving doors if you can catch them.

But others say it’s an example of the Old Girl’s Network since it was UM President Donna Shalala, former Health and Human Services secretary, who allowed the hiring of the poster boy for conflicts of interest without a job posting, national search, search committee or vote from UM psychiatry faculty.

Nor was Sen. Charles Grassely (R-Iowa), whose investigations found Nemeroff failed to disclose $1 million in drug industry income while doing “impartial” government research, amused by a Goldschmidt quote in the Chronicle that dismisses a freeze on Nemeroff-initiated grants at Emory as due to “political pressure.” (Nemeroff’s research found the tardive dyskinesia producing Abilify had “excellent” safety.)

While many dispute Nemeroff’s character — he did “science pimping for Paxil,” Bernard Carroll, MD former psychiatry head at Duke told the Miami Herald; “I’m not sure if I’d be around today if it weren’t for him,” says Tom Johnson, former CNN network president and a Nemeroff patient, also in the Herald — few dispute UM’s dire financial straits.

To further Goldschmidt’s ambition to make the University of Miami “a destination facility, attracting patients from Latin America and the United States, just like Mayo and Cleveland clinics,” according to the Herald, UM bought a private hospital, two new research buildings and hired hundreds of new medical school faculty members in a $1 billion spending binge some call shadowy. It bought Cedars Medical Center, now University of Miami Hospital, from The Healthcare Company — a firm convicted of Medicare and Medicaid fraud in 2003 — for $270 million though the facility only earned $987,000 in profit during its last year. And questions about double-billing the government for patients UM clinicians see at the public Jackson Memorial Hospital swirl.
Nemeroff’s department also oversees UM Behavioral Health’s multi-million dollar Medicaid contract which embraces 900 providers, 30 hospitals and 100 community mental health centers, despite his track record with Health and Human Services.

Meanwhile new faculty recruits have left abruptly, major donors have rescinded gifts and moral at the medical school is at an all time low.

Of course Nemeroff’s hire as head of UM psychiatry looks like an unvarnished ploy to divert taxpayer dollars from the $1.4 billion NIMH budget to a private institution courtesy of I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine cronyism. But it also raises questions about how government officials trusted with public funds even got there.

“There has always been some confusion . . . about whether Yerkes [Yerkes National Primate Research Center] is part of Emory or part of the federal government,” Insel told Emory magazine as he hop-scotched between the two employers with the help of his buddy Nemeroff (doing Lord knows what to 3,400 primates.) “This is not in any way, shape, or form a federal laboratory. . . . It is, from top to bottom, part of Emory. Every brick, every animal in this place, is part of Emory University.”

No kidding. It is just this “confusion” between public and private monies — the Yerkes Center is NIH funded, hello? — that earned Nemeroff his ethical cloud and now Insel’s support of him as UM financial savior.

MARTHA ROSENBERG can be reached at: martharosenberg@sbcglobal.net

WORDS THAT STICK

 

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 24, 2019
Jim Kavanagh
Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back
Nino Pagliccia
Sorting Out Reality From Fiction About Venezuela
Jeff Sher
Pickin’ and Choosin’ the Winners and Losers of Climate Change
Howard Lisnoff
“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”
Robert Fisk
The West’s Disgraceful Silence on the Death of Morsi
Dean Baker
The Old Japan Disaster Horror Story
David Mattson
The Gallatin Forest Partnership and the Tyranny of Ego
George Wuerthner
How Mountain Bikes Threaten Wilderness
Christopher Ketcham
The Journalist as Hemorrhoid
Manuel E. Yepe
Yankee Worship of Bombings and Endless Wars
Mel Gurtov
Iran—Who and Where is The Threat?
Wim Laven
Revisiting Morality in the Age of Dishonesty
Thomas Knapp
Facebook’s Libra Isn’t a “Cryptocurrency”
Weekend Edition
June 21, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Brett Wilkins
A Brief History of US Concentration Camps
Rob Urie
Race, Identity and the Political Economy of Hate
Rev. William Alberts
America’s Respectable War Criminals
Paul Street
“So Happy”: The Trump “Boom,” the Nation’s Despair, and the Decline of Joe Biden
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ask Your Local Death Squad
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialisation of Food
Eric Draitser
The Art of Trade War: Is Trump Winning His Trade War against China?
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s Russian Problem
Jonathan Cook
Forget Trump’s Deal of the Century: Israel Was Always on Course to Annexation
Andrew Levine
The Biden Question
Stanley L. Cohen
From Tel Aviv to Tallahassee
Robert Hunziker
Permafrost Collapses 70 Years Early
Kenn Orphan
Normalizing Atrocity
Ajamu Baraka
No Dare Call It Austerity
Ron Jacobs
The Redemptive Essence of History
David Rosen
Is Socialism Possible in America?
Dave Lindorff
The US as Rogue Nation Number 1
Joseph Natoli
The Mad King in His Time
David Thorstad
Why I’m Skipping Stonewall 50
Michael Welton
Native People: Changing Our Ways of Seeing
Peter Bolton
The US-UK “Special Relationship” is a Farce
Ramzy Baroud
‘World Refugee Day’: Palestinians Keep Their Right of Return Alive Through Hope, Resistance
Louis Proyect
The Douma Gas Attack: What’s the Evidence It was a False Flag?
Binoy Kampmark
Nigel Farage’s Grand Tour of Sabotage
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Sanctions are Sadistic and Spiteful
Norman Solomon
Clueless and Shameless: Joe Biden, Staggering Frontrunner
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong is Far From China’s Biggest Problem
Lawrence Davidson
On the Alleged “Preciousness of Life”
Mel Gurtov
Impeach Trump
Rajan Menon
America’s Suicide Epidemic: It’s Hitting Trump’s Base Hard
Dan Bacher
Oregon Governor Kate Brown Signs Five-Year Fracking Ban Bill
Ralph Nader
Congressional Interns and Congress Redirections—A Meeting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail