Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a September 15 letter to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) requesting an investigation of the interaction between the National Football League (NFL) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) regarding funding for brain injuries research.
In the letter, Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI), Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) and Michael Burges, MD, (R-Texas) raise questions about a May report, released by Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), which accused the NFL of attempting to pressure the NIH to take away a $16 million research project from Boston University, which was funded with an unrestricted $30 million donation from the NFL.
The Republican-led letter states, “[G]iven the significant public attention to these events, it is clear that a thorough and objective review by the HHS OIG is necessary. If the conduct of the NFL or its advisors was, in fact, inappropriate, NIH not only failed to identify and address this behavior, but rather encouraged ongoing discussion, thus creating a perception that the League had input on the use of the SHRP funds. While NIH may have clear rules and processes for evaluating these types of potential conflicts, given the controversy ignited by these events it is important to clarify how the Institutes evaluate these situations.”