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Less Concerned

European funding agencies and research institutes are less concerned about scientists' ties to foreign funding sources and institutions than their US counterparts, Science reports.

In the US, the National Institutes of Health has been cracking down on researchers who have failed to disclose foreign ties — particularly to China — due to concerns about intellectual property theft and threats to the integrity of peer review. This has led to the dismissal of researchers at both MD Anderson Cancer Center and Emory University.

But in Europe, researchers tell Science that foreign ties could even strengthen researchers' funding chances. It adds that because domestic research programs there are smaller than in the US, foreign collaboration is often needed. Science reports that the European Union's Horizon 2020 program doesn't require researchers to disclose their support from foreign sources and notes that the EU explicitly says researchers may operate a second lab.

"We fund basic research, and we want to know if a scientist can carry out the project," Rainer Gruhlich, the head of the North American office of the German research funding agency, DFG, tells Science. "We don't ask where a scientist is spending his or her time."