E&C Republicans to NIH: Is Agency Recovering All Misused Taxpayer Dollars?

Washington, D.C. — In a letter to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Monica Bertagnolli, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) write regarding their investigation into how NIH recovers misused funds from recipient institutions. 


“While NIH funding has resulted in significant advances in science and aided in medical breakthroughs, it is also susceptible to fraud and other misconduct. With more than $35 billion in extramural grants awarded in fiscal year 2023 alone, it is essential that the NIH ensures grant funds are used appropriately and identifies and recovers any misused or abused funds.” 


  • The NIH and its institutes and centers may also become aware of financial misuse or fraud through allegations and complaints made by colleagues at the recipient institution, whistleblowers, or even anonymous complaints.
  • Between fiscal years 2013 and 2022, the NIH received an increasing number of allegations of grant fraud—such as embezzlement and theft of funds—totaling more than 200 allegations. 
  • Several public reports have uncovered substantiated cases of misuse of funding provided by the NIH—including findings that researchers at both Harvard University and Scripps Research Institute improperly charged or overcharged the NIH for time researchers spent on grant activities, leading to over $1.3 million and $10 million being refunded to the NIH respectively. 
  • During the same period, the NIH also received more than 1,000 allegations of research misconduct.  
  • The ORI’s website summarizes nearly 30 cases of substantiated research misconduct—including falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism of data or findings supported by NIH-funded research—since 2018.  
  • These cases involve hundreds of millions of dollars, and it is unknown how much of that funding was used specifically by the person(s) found to have participated in the misconduct.  
  • There are only a handful of public cases in which the NIH has managed to recover some funds from institutions found to have failed to protect the integrity of NIH funding.  
  • For example, in 2019, Duke University agreed to repay $112.5 million to resolve allegations that applications and progress reports submitted to the federal government—including the NIH—contained falsified research. 

CLICK HERE to read the full letter.