NIH probe of undisclosed foreign ties costs 54 researchers their jobs

An ongoing National Institutes of Health investigation into researchers failing to disclose financial ties to foreign governments has resulted in 54 scientists being fired or resigning, according to the magazine Science.

The NIH launched the investigation in 2018 to examine undisclosed foreign ties among researchers who received its grants. The organization is investigating 189 scientists at 87 U.S. institutions.

Michael Lauer, NIH's head of extramural research, said in a presentation June 12 to a senior advisory panel that about 54 scientists have been fired or have resigned for not disclosing foreign ties, and in 93 percent of those cases the ties were to a Chinese institution. About 70 percent of the researchers failed to disclose the receipt of a foreign grant to NIH.

Around three-quarters of researchers under investigation had active NIH grants, and nearly half had at least two grants, Mr. Lauer said.

The investigation has also resulted in criminal charges for some researchers, including Charles Lieber, PhD, chair of the department of chemistry and chemical biology at Cambridge, Mass.-based Harvard University.

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