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Scaring the Ghosts

Ed Silverman at Pharmalot says that NIH has responded to reports of NIH-funded investigators using ghostwriting firms by strengthening a conflict of interest rule, but he adds that move might not be going far enough. "The National Institutes of Health does not condone the practice of ghostwriting, particularly situations in which investigators may have accepted payment from private entities in return for allowing their names to be used as authors on publications in which they had very limited input," writes NIH Director Francis Collins in a letter to the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit organization that has asked the agency to amend its rules to prevent ghostwriting. To that end, NIH is moving to include "paid authorship" as part of "significant financial interest" in the proposed new conflict of interest rule. POGO investigator Paul Thacker tells Silverman that this change does not go far enough. "What he doesn't understand are the subtleties - publications are the currency in academia. It doesn't matter if the author gets paid or not, because publication, itself, is compensation," Thacker says.

The Scan

Gone, But Now Reconstructed SARS-CoV-2 Genomes

In a preprint, a researcher describes his recovery of viral sequences that had been removed from a common database.

Rare Heart Inflammation Warning

The Food and Drug Administration is adding a warning about links between a rare inflammatory heart condition and two SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, Reuters reports.

Sandwich Sampling

The New York Times sent tuna sandwiches for PCR analysis.

Nature Papers Describe Gut Viruses, New Format for Storing Quantitative Genomic Data, More

In Nature this week: catalog of DNA viruses of the human gut microbiome, new dense depth data dump format to store quantitative genomic data, and more.