For those who try to keep track of Charles Nemeroff, the controversial psychiatry professor, here he is making a very different kind of pitch than the sort that once made him the focus of a US Senate committee probe into the financial relationships between academics and the pharmaceutical industry.
For those who may not recall, Nemeroff was an Emory University professor who was sanctioned for failing to disclose that he had accepted about $500,000 in payments from GlaxoSmithKline while he was also the primary investigator for a National Institutes of Health study of the Paxil antidepressant, which is sold by the drugmaker (see here). The payments were made for such things as speaking engagements, where he pitched doctors, not baseballs (read this).
At issue was the extent to which such relationships may unduly influence medical research and practice. The senate probe reached out like an octopus and ensnared various drugmakers, universities, medical journals and the NIH itself, specifically the National Institutes of Mental Health (see this). Since then, various companies and institutions have gradually adopted new policies concerning disclosure.
As for Nemeroff, he now chairs the psychiatry department at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, which is how he found himself on the
Florida Miami Marlins mound for the big wind-up. What is the connection? The University of Miami Health System is the official sports medicine provider for the team (here is the official statement about the official first pitch).
Nemeroff, however, continues to attract scrutiny. US Senator Chuck Grassley has asked the National Institutes of Health to justify a $2 million research grant recently awarded to Nemeroff, given that he remains under investigation by the US Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Inspector General, which is working with the US Department of Justice. As noted previously, the OIG investigation was completed, but there is no word on whether the DOJ will take any action before releasing the OIG report (see this).
And earlier this year, a group of academics launched a petition in hopes of persuading the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, which is devoted to combating anxiety, depression and stress-related disorders, to remove Nemeroff from its board (back story). The effort, however, appears to have failed in so far as that he remains listed among the current board members (see here).