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Grassley Pleased With Whistleblower's Return to NIH

A key Senate committee chairman on Tuesday hailed the government's reinstatement of a medical safety expert who was fired after he raised allegations of misconduct in federal AIDS research, saying it was an important step in addressing the problems.

Dr. Jonathan Fishbein's reinstatement by the National Institutes of Health "is an example where we can chalk one up for the good guys,' said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. "His allegations led to an acknowledgment by NIH of deep-seeded, systemic problems that are finally being addressed by high-level managers."

The Associated Press reported last week that NIH reinstated Fishbein and gave him time to find another federal job, settling a two-year whistleblower battle that prompted investigations into scientific misconduct and sexual harassment in the government's premier AIDS research program.

Fishbein was among a handful of NIH whistleblowers whose plight was highlighted in Associated Press stories over the last year examining allegations of safety problems with federal AIDS research in the United States and Africa, sexual harassment of female NIH safety workers and the use of foster children to test AIDS drugs.

Grassley, a strong supporter of government whistleblowers, championed Fishbein's case. His committee conducted its own investigation and prompted federal inquiries that are continuing. Nearly a dozen other lawmakers eventually intervened.

"Dr. Fishbein brought to light serious allegations of systemic problems at the National Institutes of Health. Our nation's premier biomedical institution should not tolerate the type of misconduct and sexual harassment alleged by Dr. Fishbein," Grassley said. "As is typical, Dr. Fishbein suffered mightily for being a whistleblower and for exposing the truth, until now."