Harvard Medical School is laying down the law: No more freebies. The University's administration has recently tightened restrictions on corporate gifts and speaking engagements, requiring all its faculty to report all applicable financial information.
The change comes in response to a recent controversy involving a psychiatrist at the school. Bloomberg reports:
The medical school was earlier stung by criticism when Senator Charles Grassley said Harvard psychiatrist Joseph Biederman failed to disclose some payments from drug companies while he conducted research recommending their medications for treating children with mental disorders. Grassley questioned the value of Biederman's research on medicines.
Harvard is not the only school accused of having professors who are too cozy with major corporations. Columbia and Johns Hopkins University have also tightened rules for doctors dealing with companies. And a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education reported the Senate Finance Committee's investigation into Steven M. Haffner, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, and his relationship with GlaxoSmithKline. Allegedly, Haffner was cited as the lead author on a ghostwritten company paper on the controversial drug Avandia. As the Chronicle reports, ghostwriting papers is a widespread practice only explicitly banned at a handful of schools -- and renders many so-called "academic" journals useless.