54 NIH scientists lose positions during investigation into foreign financial ties

93% of the undisclosed foreign funding was from China.

Updated: June 15, 2020 - 3:56pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A probe at the National Institutes of Health has led to the firings and resignations of 54 scientists after they failed to disclose foreign ties while registering for grants. 

The leading health agency opened investigations into nearly 200 scientists with unreported foreign ties; 93% of the undisclosed funding came from China. The NIH has, so far, removed 77 grant recipients from its databases.

The investigation was a result of the NIH's effort to weed out foreign entities targeting researchers at the institutes to steal intellectual property and protected information. 

The U.S. government has been engaged in a an active campaign to thwart the Chinese Communist Party's infiltration of American academic circles since November 2018. During the investigation, it was revealed that 143 scientists, across 27 states, held grants worth $164 million in undisclosed funding. More than 80% of the scientists were Asian, which reflects the CCP's active targeting of Chinese researchers.

The CCP has recruited several high-profile American professors as part of its Thousand Talents Program, which the U.S. government views as an operation whose primary goal is to obtain U.S. intellectual property. 

Recently, Harvard professor Charles Lieber was indicted for lying to federal authorities about his participation in the Thousand Talents Program.