MD Anderson ousts 3 researchers over Chinese data theft concerns

MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston has moved to fire three scientists accused of sharing important research findings and data with China, according to The Houston Chronicle.

MD Anderson began an internal investigation last year after receiving emails from the National Institutes of Health, which alerted the cancer center that five NIH-funded faculty members had violated agency rules tied to the confidentiality of peer review and disclosure of foreign ties.

Of the five staff members investigated, MD Anderson will cut ties with three. All three of them were tenured faculty members, but their names were not released. Two of the three resigned before being fired, while the termination process against the other scientist has been initiated.

Officials determined termination wasn't warranted for one of the professors, and they are still investigating the fifth, according to the report.

MD Anderson said in a statement to The Chronicle that an in-depth investigation found "violations of NIH and MD Anderson rules and policies" which "led to the initiation of termination processes for three tenured faculty members."

The departures are the first publicly disclosed since the NIH directed some institutions to investigate specific professors who may have been violating agency policies last August. About 55 universities have launched investigations in response to the NIH's concerns, according to the report.  

In particular, the NIH has expressed concern about foreign threats to the integrity of NIH-funded research, including the diversion of property, the sharing of confidential information by NIH peer reviewers with foreign countries and failure to disclose payments from other organizations, including foreign governments.

Read the full report here.


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