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Author Topic: Are Scientists Corruptible?  (Read 3802 times)

Offline tzemlo

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Are Scientists Corruptible?
« on: 30/03/2005 17:22:29 »
Hello:

Taking the old adage, invest in what you know; it would be logical to assume that those working in the life sciences would gravitate toward financial investments in the health care sector. This is not to say that “insider knowledge” is the motivating factor, but rather that if one is a scientist, one has a natural affinity for science and hence might favor “science-related” stocks.

However, when asked how much pharmaceutical and/or biotechnology stock NIH employees should be able to own, one-third of the respondents in a Science Advisory Board-sponsored Instant Poll cited that they should not own any. This assessment is even more conservative than the guidelines NIH has proposed, which limit such stock holdings to less than $15,000.

It appears that even the appearance of a conflict of interest is considered suspect in the research community.  Do you think that  because of this concern scientists would rather error on the side of caution than risk suspicion? I've found that since deciding such matters on a case-by-case basis is unrealistic, scientists, in general, favor broader and stricter regulations that would be applicable to all NIH employees.

Despite this stringent emphasis on ethics, nearly one-fifth of the 230+ polled believed “the sky’s the limit” and were not in favor of putting a monetary limit on NIH-employees’ health and tech stock holdings. These individuals expressed confidence in the integrity of the individual and believe that the government should not interfere with his or hers private financial decisions.



Tamara Zemlo, Ph.D., MPH
Director, The Science Advisory Board


 

Offline chris

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Re: Are Scientists Corruptible?
« Reply #1 on: 30/03/2005 17:41:36 »
But if too many restrictions are placed - amounting to the loss of a valuable 'perk' - on what is already a demanding and quite volatile labour market, I would worry that people might begin to feel that the price is too high and leave science for something else - like stockbroking !

Chris

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Offline daveshorts

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Re: Are Scientists Corruptible?
« Reply #2 on: 30/03/2005 19:01:41 »
Sorry to reveal my ignorance, but are NIH employees researchers, or the people who fund research? If they are researchers, unless there is a conflict of interest with their research, why would it be a problem?

If a researcher is researching in a similar field to a company and could be in a position to disprove the effacacy of one of their drugs for example there could be an issue, but why should there be a limit on a biotech researcher owning optoelectronic shares?

Possibly there should be some way of investigating insider dealing, or insider publishing, but this could be difficult.

If the NIH employee is dolling out research cash then you probably want to be more careful...
 

Offline xardra

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Re: Are Scientists Corruptible?
« Reply #3 on: 31/03/2005 18:41:05 »
it's too easy for even the most focused scientists to bend when certin things are given or taken form them. but that is the way humans are, some people may need a certin dollar amount to keep their family on top or pull them out of debt..

Science and religion are of the same family, but they hate eachother... Family reunions are a nightmare....
 

Offline chimera

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Re: Are Scientists Corruptible?
« Reply #4 on: 04/04/2005 17:46:23 »
Safest thing would be not allowing them to invest, and recompense them in some way. That way you would not have any problems, and the recompensation could be linked to the actual proceeds of some average mix fund.

If you wish to allow it, I suggest using the same limitations and restrictions as apply to SEC employees - if that's not good enough, nothing is:

http://www.sec.gov/jobs/lawyers.htm

(scroll to near bottom)
 

Offline MayoFlyFarmer

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Re: Are Scientists Corruptible?
« Reply #5 on: 05/04/2005 04:30:14 »
How about instead fixing the REST of the corporate system so that we scientists who actually WORK don't end up poor while wallstreet fat cats get rich (and thus make us poorer in social comparison) by cheating the system.

Are YOUR mice nude? ;)
 

Offline tweener

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Re: Are Scientists Corruptible?
« Reply #6 on: 06/04/2005 20:47:26 »
The NIH, for those who don't know, is the National Institutes of Health in the United States.  This is the government's health research and advisory organization.  Some of the employees are researchers, some are paper pushers, some are more like investigators.  I can see the reluctance of government officials to allow people in the NIH to invest in biological sciences related companies, since for *SOME* of them, though certainly not most, their decisions could have an impact on the stock value of one or many companies.  And for the relatively low wages that most US government employees get, $15,000 may sound like a lot, certainly enough to sway an otherwise ambiguous decision.

I agree with chimera that there are limits in place in other government agencies that would provide good guidelines for this situation.

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John - The Eternal Pessimist.
 

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Re: Are Scientists Corruptible?
« Reply #6 on: 06/04/2005 20:47:26 »

 

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