The chairman of a White House biotechnology regulatory committee is under investigation for conflicts of interest stemming from questions about his involvement with a West Coast biotechnology company, according to a statement released yesterday by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
The committee said it began its inquiry of David T. Kingsbury, who chairs the Biotechnology Science Coordinating Committee, in April. At that time, the committee staff obtained a brochure from IGB Products, a California biotechnology firm, that listed Kingsbury as a "founding director" and "scientific adviser" to the company.
Based on that information, the House science committee's statement said, the committee's chairman, Robert Roe (D-N.J.), and the ranking minority member of the committee, Manuel Lujan Jr., (R-N.M.), requested that the National Science Foundation, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Government Ethics and the Department of Justice "review the information obtained by the committee, conduct further investigations as appropriate, and report back to the committee."
Officials of Porton International, the British holding company that owns IGB, confirmed yesterday that Kingsbury had been a principal of IGB when the firm was formed "three or four years ago."
Committee staffers said the purpose of the inquiry was to determine whether Kingsbury was still affiliated with IGB when he joined the government, and whether he disclosed his past involvement with IGB in accordance with federal procedures.
Kingsbury vehemently denied the charges last night, calling the Porton document describing his affiliation with IGB a "series of exaggerations." He said that he served only as a consultant to the firm and that relationship ended before he came to Washington in 1984.
He also said that he fully disclosed his consultancy with IGB in accordance with federal regulations. "I have taken no money from any company since I came to the government," he said, adding that he will make a public statement clarifying his position today.
The Biotechnology Science Coordinating Committee (BSCC) is an agency within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The group acts as a referee for all the federal agencies that regulate biotech research and development -- the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency -- helping to divide up regulatory responsibilities and recommend basic regulatory guidelines.
Since assuming the chairmanship of the BSCC two years ago, Kingsbury has gained a reputation for being sympathetic to the concerns of the biotech industry.
Kingsbury is also assistant director of the National Science Foundation for biological, behavioral and social sciences, and has served on the Working Group on Biotechnology of the Domestic Policy Council.