Chinese Spies Found Working In Major U.S. Cancer Center

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Scientists with ties to China ousted from US cancer center amid fears of foreign influence; grounds for criminal prosecution

By Michael Nedelman, April 25, 2019

CNN – A leading cancer research center in Houston, Texas has taken action against a handful of faculty members for sharing confidential information and failing to disclose foreign ties, according to statements from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

According to documents and statements reviewed by CNN, five scientists at the institution were flagged by the US National Institutes of Health — which funds biomedical research across the country — “regarding a variety of threats, including data security and intellectual property loss,” according to a statement by the cancer center.

Internal investigations revealed a number of infractions of ethics policies and, in a few cases, possible grounds for criminal prosecution, according to compliance reports summarizing the probes carried out by officials within MD Anderson and the University of Texas system.

The reports described cases of sharing confidential information surrounding research grants, as well as foreign interests, collaborators and payments the scientists had not disclosed. In many cases this was traced back to Chinese institutions. MD Anderson said the breaches did not include patient information.

The cancer center has moved to terminate three of the scientists, two of whom resigned before that process could run its course. For the third, those proceedings are ongoing, according to an e-mailed statement from the cancer center’s president, Dr. Peter W.T. Pisters.

Of the other two researchers who were flagged, one investigation “indicated non-compliance yet did not meet a threshold to begin the termination process,” Pisters said. The other investigation is still in progress.

Issue broad in scope

The NIH told CNN in an email that, while MD Anderson took immediate action, the issue is broader in scope: The agency has contacted 55 institutions with concerns about foreign influence as of April 11 … Read more.