Less than a day after the university is publicly questioned again by US Senator Chuck Grassley over its handling of an alleged conflict of interest involving its psychiatry department chair, Alan Schatzberg, and his tangled web of stock holdings, royalty payments and NIH grants for mifepristone research, Stanford has yanked the grant from him and appointed another principal investigator.
A spokesman tells us this statement was sent to the Senate Finance Committee:
Despite our belief that Stanford, NIMH and Dr. Schatzberg have handled this grant in accordance with the regulations and applicable polices and with due regard to the integrity of the research, we can see how having Dr. Schatzberg as the principal investigator on this grant can create an appearance of conflict of interest.
Therefore Stanford, with the concurrence of Dr. Schatzberg, is temporarily appointing another principal investigator on this grant and we have advised NIMH. We hope this will eliminate any misunderstanding of Dr. Schatzberg's role with respect to the mifepristone research by those who may not be familiar with the grant and oversight process.
We will be working with NIMH in this interim period to restructure the research on this grant to serve three important purposes which are in the best interest of the NIH, the oversight process and public confidence in the research.
- We want to put to rest confusion about the integrity of the research involving mifepristone.
- The research regarding mifepristone should continue.
- Vital research on other issues regarding psychotic depression -research that has nothing to do with mifaprestone- should continue as well.
And this letter was sent to the NIH.
And here is Grassley's reaction: “Today’s announcement demonstrates that transparency has a vital role in building confidence and bolstering independence in medical research."