Agencies publish conflict of interest regulations


For several months, the Trump administration has been focused on claims of espionage by foreign nations in research laboratories in the United States. U.S. intelligence agencies have verified these charges, and now members of Congress are becoming involved. These serious espionage incidents are shining a light on important issues to which researchers funded by U.S. science agencies, including the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), need to pay attention.

Both the NIH and NSF have distributed notices on these issues. The NIH notice, Financial Conflict of Interest: Investigator Disclosures of Foreign Financial Interests (, is a recap of existing NIH policies. Previously, these existing policies have been largely ignored by researchers and unenforced by the NIH.

The notice from the NSF reminds the NSF community about restrictions placed on those funded by the NSF and those who join the NSF as temporary “rotators.” The notice is in the form of a “dear colleague” letter ( from NSF Director France Córdova.

For background on the current situation, you may wish to read recent articles in Bloomberg Businessweek (, the Houston Chronicle (, and Science (,

About the Author:

Kevin M. Wilson serves as Director of Public Policy and Media Relations for The American Society for Cell Biology. He's worked as the Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Robert Weygand (D-RI) and as a Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI). He has a BA in Politics and American Government from the Catholic University of America. Email: