Continued China & U.S. R&D Trade Secret Tensions Lead to Departures at Major Research Centers in America

Continued China & U.S. R&D Trade Secret Tensions Lead to Departures at Major Research Centers in America

Tensions between America and China continued throughout the year, and in 2019 alone, 10 researchers left their academic medical positions due to some conflicts of interest. Major academic medical centers are a nexus of intellectual property creation and, hence, sensitive places and spaces. TrialSite News has cautioned that in America it is important to balance vigilance and oversight with the open-minded spirit that has kept the country at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurial leadership.

Becker’s Hospital Review recently reported on 10 researchers and leaders who left academic medical jobs in 2019. They included five below:

1. Moffitt Cancer Center CEO, center director step down; conflicts of interest cited 
Tampa, Fla.-based H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute on Dec. 18 accepted the resignations of President and CEO Alan F. List, MD, and Thomas Sellers, an executive vice president and center director at Moffitt.

2. Former Nationwide Children’s Hospital researchers charged with stealing trade secrets
A couple who previously worked in medical research labs at Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Research Institute were accused in September of stealing scientific trade secrets for their own financial gain, according to the Department of Justice.

3. UC San Diego physician resigns amid scrutiny over ties to China
Kang Zhang, MD, PhD, an ophthalmologist and the former chief of UC San Diego’s Shiley Eye Institute, resigned this summer after a report alleged he did not disclose conflicts of interest in China, according to inewsource, an independent investigative news outlet covering San Diego.

4. 2 Emory scientists out for ties to China
Two unnamed faculty researchers left their roles at Atlanta-based Emory University for foreign ties, according to Georgia Health News, a state-based healthcare news publication reported in May.

5. MD Anderson ousts 3 researchers over Chinese data theft concerns
In April, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston moved to fire three scientists accused of sharing important research findings and data with China, according to The Houston Chronicle.