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E&C GOP Leaders Ask How NIH and FBI Keep Foreign Influence Out of Biomedical Research


09.23.20

Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR), Health Subcommittee Republican Leader Dr. Michael Burgess (R-TX), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY) sent letters to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Director Christopher Wray to request information on how their respective agencies are working to remove foreign influence from biomedical research.

“As the largest funder of biomedical research in the world, the NIH research community faces significant exposure to risks related to undue foreign influence on research, with more than 80 percent of NIH funding awarded to more than 300,000 researchers at more than 2,500 research institutions globally. Recently, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Director Christopher Wray described how Chinese researchers intentionally conceal participation in Chinese talent recruitment programs while accepting millions of dollars in U.S. federal grant funding as part of a larger agenda secretly to steal and bring U.S. knowledge and innovation back to China,” Walden, Burgess, and Guthrie wrote.

Press reports have documented NIH’s and FBI’s efforts to investigate scientists that are suspected of stealing research for other countries, and recently showed how these investigations have led to job terminations at U.S. medical research institutions. To better understand the federal agencies’ efforts, E&C Republican leaders requested a briefing from NIH explaining in greater detail the actions taken to address foreign influence that were highlighted in its budget document, and a briefing from the FBI on how the Bioterrorism Risk Assessment Group (BRAG) detects foreign conflicts in the Federal Select Agent Program (FSAP) and Security Risk Assessment (SRA) Program.

“Plans for ensuring FSAP and biomedical research program integrity and security is of great public interest and needs to be protected from intellectual property theft and undue foreign influence,” Walden, Burgess, and Guthrie continued.

In their letters, the E&C Republican leaders also noted that working with scientists from around the world is vital to biomedical research and that most researchers are not bad actors.

“…U.S. biomedical enterprise is made possible because the overwhelming majority of researchers participating in NIH grants, whether U.S. or foreign-born, are honest contributors.  NIH properly recognized the importance of scientific collaborations, including those involving international institutions, to advance its mission. We strongly agree with NIH on these points.” Walden, Burgess, and Guthrie continued.

CLICK HERE for the letters to the NIH and FBI.

Press Release