Emory University found that two of its researchers failed to divulge that they had received funds from China and that they had conducted more research with Chinese institutions than they had disclosed, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. It adds that the researchers are no longer with the university.
The AJC notes that this comes at a time when the US National Institutes of Health has raised concerns about foreign influence on the country's biomedical research enterprise. Last August, NIH Director Francis Collins voiced concerns about such failures to divulge foreign financial contributions as well as about the redirecting of intellectual property — including to foreign countries — and the sharing of confidential peer review information. Following that, the agency sent letters in March to a number of US institutions to inquire about particular faculty members' potential foreign ties.
According to a statement from Emory, it received such a letter, which prompted it to launch an investigation. That, ScienceInsider reports, then led to the firing of the two researchers, both of whom are Chinese Americans. It says the pair, who are married, had been using CRISPR to engineer pigs and monkeys to study human disease, including Huntington's disease.
In April, MD Anderson Cancer Center fired three researchers, also of Chinese ethnicity, for also not disclosing foreign ties and for violating the confidentiality of peer review. This, Science noted at the time, stoked concerns about racial profiling.
In a statement, Emory says it "remains committed to the free exchange of ideas and research and to our vital collaborations with researchers from around the world," but that it also "takes very seriously its obligation to be a good steward of federal research dollars and to ensure compliance with all funding disclosure and other requirements."