National Institutes of Health now recognises same sex marriages in its grants policies

Social change has led the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to update its policies. The biomedical research agency has announced that its grant and contracts programmes now interpret the terms ‘spouse’ and ‘marriage’ to include same sex spouses and marriages. The modification reflects that fact that in June 2013 the US supreme court ruling meant that the spouses of government employees in same sex marriages were entitled to the same benefits as those in heterosexual marriages.

Such marital and spousal considerations are relevant to the NIH grants and R&D contracts communities when it comes to collecting information about financial conflicts of interest (COIs). For example, institutions that receive NIH grants require each of their investigators to disclose their significant financial interests and those of their spouses.

In addition, spouses’  COIs and those of ‘close relatives’ can prevent researchers from participating in scientific peer review groups assessing applications for NIH research grants or contract projects. These categories now extend to same sex spouses.