Life Sciences

Grassley questions NIH hiring of Tufts University professor

Device Regulation Alert: Safety, Compliance and Reimbursement News, October 6, 2008

Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) accused well-known Tufts University heart specialist Marvin Konstam, MD, of behaving unethically by working for the university, the federal government, and Orqis, a private California heart-device company, according to a Grassley release.
 
Grassley sent a letter to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Elias A. Zerhouni, MD, expressing concern that the NIH was trying to avoid following conflict of interest policies by hiring experts as contractors instead of as full time employees.
 
The senator cited a press release from Orqis that referred to Konstam as “Medical Director, Orqis Medical, and Professor of Medicine, Tufts University.” In the release, Konstam praises one of Orqis’ devices. This leads to confusion about who Konstam really works for, Grassley said.
 
Grassley asked for Zerhouni’s insights into how Dr. Konstam, who appears to be a full-time federal employee, kept an office at Tufts and was publishing studies on behalf of Orqis at the same time he was listed as a senior advisor with a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute phone number and email account.
 
Grassley also requested information on how Konstam was hired, how much the NIH paid him, and whom else he received money from while working for NIH. Grassley also wants to see Konstam’s financial disclosure filings.

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