She’s probably mostly kidding when she tells the origin story this way, but Kathy Hudson—until last year the deputy director for science, outreach, and policy at the National Institutes of Health—says that a massive update to the NIH’s rules for funding science started with humiliation. A pal who ran approvals at the Food and Drug Administration, Hudson says, “used to walk around and talk about how NIH funded small, crappy trials, and they would say it at big gatherings.” This was Washington, in front of congresspeople—or at conferences full of leading researchers. “I would get so pissed off,” Hudson says.
But then, well, she took it to heart. “I started to look at our trials and what kinds of policies we had, to make sure investments in clinical trials were well spent,” Hudson says. It turned out they were not.
This week, after almost a decade of work, some new rules go into effect for researchers funded by NIH. If they’re using human beings in their experiments, most of them now have to register their methodologies on a government-built website, clinicaltrials.gov. They have to promise to share whatever they find, even if they don’t prove what they hoped—especially if they don’t prove it. They have to get trained up in modern clinical practices.
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