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US hospitals predict wave of dismissals over undisclosed China links

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 25 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1911
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

One of the US’s best known hospitals, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, is dismissing three Chinese American scientists after the National Institutes of Health singled them out by name in complaints, alleging that their NIH grant applications had concealed extensive links to Chinese institutions and that they posed a threat to US funded intellectual property.

The dismissals may herald others across the US, indicate recent warnings from the NIH director, Francis Collins, who told a Senate hearing earlier this month that his agency had sent similar letters to “more than 55” institutions. These followed an open letter sent last August to more than 10 000 institutions warning them that “foreign entities have mounted systematic programs to influence NIH researchers and peer reviewers.”1

The NIH sent five letters to MD Anderson, each naming a principal investigator in research funded by the NIH and listing alleged violations of grant application guidelines. The hospital provided the letters to TheBMJ. The scientists’ names are redacted, as are those of allegedly affiliated universities and companies in China, but three of the researchers are described as grantees of China’s Thousand Talents programme, which aims to attract foreign trained scientists to China. …

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