Evolving Approaches in the 1990s
In the late 1970s, matters of scientific integrity (and the occasional lack thereof) in the nation's research laboratories began to capture the attention of the American public. In 1981, future vice president and then Tennessee congressman Albert Gore, Jr., chairman of the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee, held the first hearings on the emerging problem. In 1985, Congress enacted the Health Research Extension Act, which required institutions seeking research funds from the Public Health Service (PHS), the oversight body of the NIH, to establish “an administrative process to review reports of scientific fraud” and “report to the Secretary any investigation of alleged scientific fraud which appears substantial.” Four years later, in March 1989, the Office of Scientific Integrity (OSI) was created under the jurisdiction of the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The name “Office of Scientific Integrity” was originally proposed as a kind of Orwellian joke, but it stuck, at least for the short life of the new agency.
The OSI mandate was to protect the integrity of scientific research in the United States by investigating allegations of scientific fraud—largely in biology, a natural focus for an agency administered by the NIH—that came its way. In May 1992, after