The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has accused a biologist of stealing ideas from the unpublished manuscript of a rival researcher and using that information to produce his own study and have it published in the prominent journal Science. The government investigation concluded that C. David Bridges, a former researcher at the Baylor College of Medicine, stole information and ideas for experiments from a Harvard University manuscript he was given to evaluate. "Dr. Bridges did plagiarize the manuscript," an internal report for the NIH director stated. "He misused the privileged information available to him in formulating the experiments he allegedly conducted and he failed to acknowledge properly the source of that information in Science." Bridges, now a professor of biology at Purdue University, was unavailable for comment yesterday. He has said through his lawyer that he is innocent of all charges and that he obtained his information independently. He has also said he will appeal any critical findings. The editor of Science, Daniel E. Koshland Jr., who once wrote that "99.9999 percent of reports" in scientific journals -- or all but one in a million -- "are accurate and truthful," said he will notify Science's readers of the fraudulent study in Friday's edition. "The NIH report describes a situation that is truly unfortunate for all concerned," Koshland said in a statement. "We are disturbed by abuse of privileged information whenever it occurs because the scientific community depends on the integrity of the peer review process." The NIH report recommends that Bridges be prohibited from receiving federal grants and that he be excluded from peer review programs for 10 years. The paper, published two years ago, was on the biochemistry of pigments in the eye's retina and how they behave to make vision possible. Researchers believe that a better understanding of those issues could help treat eye diseases. The bizarre case again focuses attention on the purity of scientific research. Several recent congressional hearings have addressed issues of fraud in science, but many researchers -- Koshland in particular -- have said that research fraud is extremely rare. The case started when Robert R. Rando and two colleagues from the Harvard Medical School sent a manuscript on their eye research to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The journal sent the article to Bridges for review, a routine part of the peer review process before scientific articles are accepted for publication. After about a month, Bridges returned the paper, saying he was working on the same subject and therefore could not review it. He then sent his version of the same research to Science. Rando complained, and in September 1987 Baylor appointed a committee to look into charges of plagiarism. According to the NIH report of its own investigation, it found that Bridges had altered dates to suggest "falsely" that he had begun his research before reviewing the work of the Harvard team.