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Letter - Health Updates


May 24, 2024
Press Release

E&C Leaders to ODNI: What Does the U.S. Intel Community Know About CCP-Linked Security Breach at Canadian High-Containment Lab

Washington, D.C. — In a new letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) have asked for a briefing regarding a Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) report that a high security lab in Canada was infiltrated by Chinese scientists connected to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). BACKGROUND : Recently disclosed information from Canada provides additional insight into the Wuhan Institute of Virology's (WIV) interests and activities in the months leading up to the pandemic. In Canada, it was revealed that Canada's highest security lab (where Ebola and coronaviruses are studied) was infiltrated by Chinese scientists receiving secret payments from China’s military. This information was revealed in a report from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in February 2024, following a two-year investigation. Two scientists at Canada’s high-security infectious disease laboratory—Xiangguo Qiu and Keding Cheng—provided confidential scientific information to China and were fired in 2021 after a probe concluded Dr. Qiu posed “a realistic and credible threat to Canada’s economic security” and it was discovered they engaged in clandestine meetings with Chinese officials. CSIS discovered Dr. Qiu had applied for, and likely received, a position under China’s Thousand Talents Program and that her position came through the WIV. According to CSIS, Dr. Qiu, who worked at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, lied when confronted about her actions, making “blanket denials” and “half-truths, and personally benefited from the arrangement,” noting that she repeatedly lied to the CSIS and “refused to admit to any involvement in various PRC [People’s Republic of China] programs.” In a January 2021 letter recommending that Dr. Qiu’s security clearance be revoked, CSIS stated: “The Service assess that Ms. Qiu developed deep, cooperative relationships with a variety of People’s Republic of China institutions and has intentionally transferred scientific knowledge and materials to China in order to benefit the PRC government.” The two infectious-disease scientists were escorted out of the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg in July 2019, and later had their security clearances revoked. They were fired in January 2021. Their whereabouts are not known. Of particular concern is that Dr. Qiu covertly and without authorization provided the Ebola genetic sequence, intellectual property related to research of Ebola, and possibly other pathogens to China. Others informed CSIS that Dr. Qiu and her husband used Gmail accounts extensively, rather than her government of Canada emails. This would appear to be a good source of communications between these spy-scientists in Canada and Wuhan and/or the Chinese military. CSIS found an application from her to one of China’s talent programs that said she would work for the WIV for at least two months every year. As part of her enrollment, CSIS said, Dr. Qiu committed to “building the People’s Republic of China’s biosecurity platform for new and potent infectious disease research.” The CSIS investigation found Dr. Qiu led a project at the WIV that would assess cross-species infection and pathogenic risks of filoviruses, work that CSIS said suggests “gain-of-function studies were possibly to take place.” CSIS also noted Dr. Qiu, who headed the vaccine development and antiviral therapies section at the Winnipeg lab, collaborated on scientific papers with Chinese military researchers, including Major-General Chen Wei, a high-ranking officer in the People’s Liberation Army. In a report, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) found Dr. Qiu lied about an October 2018 trip to China that she had said was a personal vacation, but later acknowledged after being presented with contradictory evidence that the trip was paid for by the WIV and she met the WIV’s director during the visit. CLICK HERE to read the full letter.



May 23, 2024
Press Release

E&C Republicans to NIH: Is Agency Recovering All Misused Taxpayer Dollars?

Washington, D.C. — In a letter to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Monica Bertagnolli, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) write regarding their investigation into how NIH recovers misused funds from recipient institutions.  KEY LETTER EXCERPT :  “While NIH funding has resulted in significant advances in science and aided in medical breakthroughs, it is also susceptible to fraud and other misconduct. With more than $35 billion in extramural grants awarded in fiscal year 2023 alone, it is essential that the NIH ensures grant funds are used appropriately and identifies and recovers any misused or abused funds.”  BACKGROUND :  The NIH and its institutes and centers may also become aware of financial misuse or fraud through allegations and complaints made by colleagues at the recipient institution, whistleblowers, or even anonymous complaints. Between fiscal years 2013 and 2022, the NIH received an increasing number of allegations of grant fraud—such as embezzlement and theft of funds—totaling more than 200 allegations.  Several public reports have uncovered substantiated cases of misuse of funding provided by the NIH—including findings that researchers at both Harvard University and Scripps Research Institute improperly charged or overcharged the NIH for time researchers spent on grant activities, leading to over $1.3 million and $10 million being refunded to the NIH respectively.  During the same period, the NIH also received more than 1,000 allegations of research misconduct.   The ORI’s website summarizes nearly 30 cases of substantiated research misconduct—including falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism of data or findings supported by NIH-funded research—since 2018.   These cases involve hundreds of millions of dollars, and it is unknown how much of that funding was used specifically by the person(s) found to have participated in the misconduct.   There are only a handful of public cases in which the NIH has managed to recover some funds from institutions found to have failed to protect the integrity of NIH funding.   For example, in 2019, Duke University agreed to repay $112.5 million to resolve allegations that applications and progress reports submitted to the federal government—including the NIH—contained falsified research.  CLICK HERE to read the full letter. 



May 23, 2024
Press Release

E&C Republicans Investigate Whether CMS CLIA Accreditation Contains Adequate National Security Safeguards

Washington, D.C. — In a new letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) are seeking answers as to whether the agency adequately safeguards Clinical Laboratory Improvements Amendments (CLIA) lab accreditation from national security concerns.  The Members are particularly concerned with national security concerns related to the Chinese military and the unethical use of human beings in research studies by entities of concern in China.  BACKGROUND :  Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) is a firm based in Shenzhen used by the Chinese government to build and operate the China National GeneBank, “a vast and growing government-owned repository that includes genetic data drawn from millions of people around the world.”  The Department of Defense in 2022 officially listed BGI as one of several “Chinese military companies” operating in the United States, and a 2021 U.S. intelligence assessment linked the company to the Beijing-directed global effort to obtain even more human DNA, including from the United States.  On March 6, 2023, the Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security added BGI Tech Solutions (Hongkong) Co. Ltd., to the “Entity List,” which identifies entities for which there is reasonable cause to believe, based on specific and articulable facts, that the entities have been involved, are involved, or pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.  It was added to the entity list “based upon information that indicates their collection and analysis of genetic data poses a significant risk of contributing to monitoring and surveillance by the government of China, which has been utilized in the repression of ethnic minorities in China. Information also indicates that the actions of these entities concerning the collection and analysis of genetic data present a significant risk of diversion to China’s military programs.”  CMS accredited a laboratory owned by BGI in 2017-2019. It then provided a CLIA accreditation to an entity called BGI Tech Solutions (Hongkong) Co. Ltd., effective September 8, 2023, with an expiration date of September 7, 2025, and with the same address and the same point of contact listed in the previous BGI CLIA lab accreditation.  CLICK HERE to read the letter. 



May 23, 2024
Press Release

E&C, E&W Republicans Press HHS Secretary Becerra on Preventing Civil Rights Violations at Universities Receiving NIH Grants

Inquiry Part of House-Wide Effort to Combat Rise of Antisemitism on College Campuses Washington, D.C. — In a new letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, House Energy and Commerce Committee (E&C) Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), E&C Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and E&C Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffth (R-VA), along with House Education and the Workforce Committee (E&W) Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and E&W Subcommittee on Higher Education & Workforce Development Chair Burgess Owens (R-UT), raised concerns over how HHS is ensuring that research universities are preventing harassment and discrimination—particularly against individuals of Jewish faith and heritage. The Chairs note in their letter that colleges or universities that violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 can ultimately lose Federal funding.   The investigation comes as part of Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-LA) House-wide effort to crack down on antisemitism on college campuses.  KEY LETTER EXCERPT :  “We are troubled by the fact that colleges and universities that are recipients of massive amounts of Federal research grants from NIH are actively fostering antisemitism on campus and failing to protect Jewish students, faculty, and support staff. Failing to comply with basic safety protections for members of their communities, no matter the cause, may be grounds for disqualification of universities and colleges from receiving Federal funds. Congress has an obligation to ensure compliance with Title VI. If Congress determines an institution of higher education is in violation, we may consider rescinding research and development funds previously appropriated.”  BACKGROUND :  Starting in April 2024, antisemitic, and at times violent, protests broke out across campuses at several prominent universities—including Columbia University, the University of Southern California (USC), the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), George Washington University (GWU), Harvard University, and Yale University—resulting in unsafe learning and research environments for students, faculty, and staff, especially for those of Jewish faith and heritage.     Beginning on April 17, 2024, an encampment sprung up on Columbia University’s campus with hundreds of protestors and tents.   Protestors vandalized the campus—including residence halls—with banners and signs containing antisemitic sentiments and even support for the terrorist organization Hamas.  Despite over 100 arrests by police, the protests progressed to the occupation of a campus building and physical attacks on Jewish students—leading campus officials to move some classes online.  Professors at Columbia University have openly made antisemitic and even pro-Hamas statements, adding to the harassment of Jewish students.   A prominent rabbi at Columbia University also warned Jewish students to remain off-campus due to fears that the university and New York City police could not keep students safe.   Jewish students on campus have expressed concerns over their safety on campus and the mental and psychological toll the hostile environment is taking on their ability to work and learn.  Columbia University—which across its campuses received more than $682 million in grants from NIH in fiscal year 2023—is just the tip of the iceberg as similar events are spreading to other colleges and universities.   USC—which received more than $358 million in NIH funding in fiscal year 2023—is also overrun with students, faculty, and other anti-Israel protests that led the university to cancel its graduation ceremony out of safety concerns.   A protestor at USC was charged with assault with a deadly weapon—showing the threatening and intimidating nature of these protests. UCLA—which received more than $580 million in NIH grants in fiscal year 2023—is yet another example of the impact these actions have on the ability of students—particularly Jewish students—to learn. Protesters at UCLA have blocked off sections of the campus, refusing access to Jewish students seeking to attend their classes.  According to a phone call with UCLA police, the directive from UCLA was to not interfere with the protestors.  Just a few blocks from the White House at GWU—which received more than $73 million in grants from NIH in fiscal year 2023—encampments spread beyond the campus onto public streets, and for weeks no action was taken to clear the encampments.  At both Yale University—which received more than $621 million in grants from NIH in fiscal year 2023—and Harvard University—which received more than $400 million across its campuses in grants from NIH in fiscal year 2023—concerns about antisemitism circulated even before the protests erupted. Dozens of protestors were arrested after setting up an encampment at Yale University and parts of Harvard University have been closed, with classes held remotely in response to hundreds of protestors gathering on campus.  Several lawsuits have been filed against these universities alleging violations of civil rights protections and failure to provide a safe environment, and the U.S. Department of Education has opened investigations into several colleges and universities—including Columbia University—for potential civil rights violations.  According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), colleges and universities are prohibited from discriminating based on a variety of categories—including national origin. These laws also protect students who are, or are perceived to be, members of a religious group—including those of Jewish faith. A college or university is in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 if: 1) there is harassing conduct on the basis of race, color, or national origin that is sufficiently serious as to limit or deny a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program (i.e., creates a hostile environment); 2) a responsible employee of the school knew, or should have known, about the harassment; and 3) the school failed to take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the harassment, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent the harassment from reoccurring, and as appropriate, remedy its effects.  According to NIH’s Grant Policy Statement, any institution receiving Federal funds must assure work environments are free of discriminatory harassment and are safe and conducive to high-quality work.  HHS’s OCR is responsible for ensuring that institutions that receive Federal financial assistance comply with Title VI as well as other civil rights laws.   Colleges or universities that violate Title VI can ultimately lose Federal funding.   CLICK HERE to read the full letter.



May 22, 2024
Press Release

E&C Republicans Press HHS Secretary Becerra for Scientific Literature Used to Justify Irreversible Gender Transition Procedures for Children

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) wrote to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra asking for a briefing and information on what evidenced-based scientific and pediatric medical literature the department relies upon to promote gender transition procedures for children. KEY LETTER EXCERPT :  “Officials at HHS contend that sex reassignment procedures on minors are unanimously accepted medical practice, despite a growing body of research from European medical experts and authorities warning otherwise. According to a recent HHS production in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), it seems HHS’s position rests entirely on a two-page publicly available brochure advocating for such drastic, life-altering procedures on children. The Committee seeks information to better understand the body of medical information HHS has consulted to establish its policy promoting sex reassignment for children.”  [...] “All of HHS’s medical treatment recommendations, especially medical treatment recommendations for children, should be based on rigorous and well-established research that has definitively illustrated the long-term benefits of performing such procedures. Therefore, it is puzzling that HHS actively advocates for off-label use of puberty blockers without justification—such as substantial evidence gathered through a randomized controlled trial. In doing so, HHS is effectively advocating for unregulated medical experimentation on children.”  BACKGROUND :  Under the Biden administration, HHS has advocated for sex reassignment procedures, including the use of serum puberty blockers.    These are chemical hormonal suppressants that have a history of predominantly being used to treat U.S. children experiencing precocious puberty (i.e., the early onset of puberty affecting about 1% of U.S. children); they also have been used on sex-offenders and are known to stunt normal childhood development for children unaffected by precocious puberty.    Contrary to HHS’s proclamation that “there is no argument among medical professionals,” a substantial number of medical experts from around the world have publicly denounced sex transition procedures on minors as irresponsible, including a July 2023, letter signed by clinicians and researchers published in the Wall Street Journal.  On March 12, 2024, the National Health Service (NHS) of England announced it will no longer widely allow puberty blockers to be administered to children.    A United Kingdom court noted the obvious about administering puberty blocking chemicals onto children: “[i]t is highly unlikely that a child aged 13 or under would be competent to give consent to the administration of puberty blockers. It is doubtful that a child aged 14 or 15 could understand and weigh the long-term risks and consequences of the administration of puberty blockers.”  Several European countries have restricted “sex change surgeries, hormones, and puberty blockers for children.”   In Finland, Dr. Riittakerttu Kaltiala, a pediatrician specializing in gender medicine reportedly noted , “using a child’s preferred name and pronouns—is ‘not a neutral act’ but rather one that can solidify what is otherwise likely to be a passing phase into a more permanent state of mind, or ‘identity,’ and put the minor on a path to drugs and surgeries.”  CLICK HERE to read the full letter.



May 9, 2024
Press Release

E&C Republicans Question ASPR over Mismanagement of the Strategic National Stockpile

Washington, D.C. — In a new letter to the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) raise questions about the ASPR’s mismanagement of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).  KEY LETTER EXCERPT :  “ The Committee is alarmed by a pattern of fiscal mismanagement and a series of failed acquisitions that have left the SNS dangerously under resourced and likely underprepared to respond to future public health emergencies . Over the last year, ASPR let over $850 million in emergency supplemental funding for the SNS go unused. These funds were eventually rescinded by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) due to a lack of appropriate planning and urgency by ASPR. This recission occurred despite ASPR regularly expressing concerns to Congress about adequately funding the resupply of the SNS after the COVID-19 pandemic. This Committee responded to ASPR’s concerns by increasing the authorization of SNS funding in its reauthorization of the Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act. Similarly, the Fiscal Year 2024 Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriation Bill also increased funding for the SNS. As such, the failure to commit funds in a timely and competent manner is particularly frustrating. Moreover, the continued procurement dysfunction at ASPR puts remaining SNS funds, as well as funds for advance research and development, at risk of future recission by OMB .”  BACKGROUND :  Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell has made it a primary goal to “restore and maintain the public health emergency capacity that has been severely strained by the pandemic including replenishing the Strategic National Stockpile.”  The SNS plays a critical role in ensuring America is prepared against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, as well as pandemics and emerging infectious disease outbreaks.  Despite this apparent prioritization, in 2022, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) placed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) management of public health emergencies, of which ASPR is a leading sub-agency, on its high-risk list of government programs that “are vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse, or mismanagement, or in need of transformation.”  In making this determination, the GAO raised concerns about ASPR’s ability to manage the SNS and medical countermeasure contracts.  On May 2, 2024, the GAO published a report outlining ongoing challenges for managing the SNS, noting that public health emergency coordination remains on its “High Risk List.”  The Chairs asked Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell for answers to a series of questions related to ASPR’s past and future contracting processes, policies, and decisions to ensure our nation is prepared and ready to respond to health security threats. The Committee requested answers by May 21, 2024.  CLICK HERE to read the full letter.



May 9, 2024
Press Release

E&C Republicans to HHS Secretary: What Law Requires You to Hide Sexual Abusers?

Secretary Becerra’s Extreme Legal Position Prioritizes Protecting Substantiated Abusers Over Victims Washington, D.C. — In a new letter , House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), and Representative August Pfluger (R-TX) asked Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to provide the Committee with the legal basis requiring HHS to redact or hide the names of researchers determined to have committed sexual misconduct.  The letter comes following Secretary Becerra’s appearance before the Subcommittee on Health during which he claimed he could not release the names of individuals determined to have committed sexual harassment to Congress because of legal prohibitions. The Members requested that Secretary Becerra provide the Committee with the legal basis for HHS’s decision to redact the names of abusers who have substantiated findings of sexual harassment or abuse by April 30, 2024.  CLICK HERE to read the letter.  BACKGROUND :  The Committee first launched an investigation into the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) handling of sexual harassment at grantee institutions in August 2021.   In October 2023, the Committee expanded its inquiry to include complaints involving NIH scientists.   After NIH’s failure to comply, Chair Rodgers subpoenaed NIH Director Monica Bertagnolli to produce documents in February of 2024.  Later that month, HHS responded on behalf of NIH to offer a rolling in camera document review to the Committee. Documents presented in the review have been highly redacted, including the redaction of the names of individuals convicted of criminal offenses, public news articles about individuals who have been found guilty of harassment, and redaction of the names of the institutions where the abuse occurred—preventing the Committee from understanding if NIH continues to fund work performed by substantiated abusers at other institutions—a practice known as “pass the harasser.”  FULL TIMELINE :  August 10, 2021 : E&C Republican Leaders Question NIH’s Handling of Sexual Harassment Complaints   August 11, 2022 : E&C Republican Leaders follow up with NIH on Insufficient Response to its Letter on the NIH’s handling of Sexual Harassment   November 30, 2022 : E&C Republicans to NIH: Turn Over Previously Requested Information Ahead of New Congress   March 14, 2023 : E&C Republicans Press NIH for Information on Handling of Sexual Harassment Complaints   October 6, 2023 : E&C Republicans Signal Intent to Issue Subpoenas to Obtain Information on NIH’s Handling of Sexual Harassment if Questions Go Unanswered   January 26, 2024 : Chair Rogers notifies NIH of Imminent Subpoecana   February 5, 2024 : Chair Rodgers Subpoenas NIH for Documents Related to Investigation into Sexual Harassment at NIH and NIH Grantee Institutions  February 20, 2024: HHS Responds on behalf of NIH to offer a rolling in camera document review to the Committee. Documents produced in the review have been highly redacted, including the redaction of the names of individuals convicted of criminal offenses, public news articles about individuals who have been found guilty of harassment, and redaction of the names of the institutions where the abuse occurred—effectively preventing the Committee from understanding if NIH continues to fund work performed by substantiated abusers at other institutions—a practice known as “pass the harasser.”  April 16, 2024 : E&C Republicans Expand Investigation into Sexual Harassment at NIH to now Include Review of HHS Office of Civil Rights Compliance Role  WHISTLEBLOWERS:    The Committee is seeking whistleblowers with knowledge of sexual harassment at the NIH or NIH grantee institutions, as well as those with knowledge of how the NIH handles such complaints.   The right for public employees to communicate with Congress, in their private capacities, is established in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In addition, various U.S. laws prohibit retaliation against whistleblowers for providing information to Congress. However, individuals still take serious risks when they engage in whistleblowing activity.   To better protect your communications, do not contact the Committee using work resources, work contact information, or while you are working . Further, consider consulting an attorney experienced in representing whistleblowers before you make a disclosure.   Do not submit classified information or other information barred from release through this form or by email. Unauthorized handling of classified information could result in criminal prosecution.   The Committee respects your need to remain confidential and will use your contact information only to follow up with you regarding your submission. You may submit a disclosure anonymously. However, please be aware that anonymous disclosures may limit the Committee’s ability to respond to the information that you provide.   Individuals with information about harassment at the NIH may contact the Committee via email at:   ReportNIHAbuse@mail.house.gov    Individuals with information about harassment at institutions that receive NIH grants may contact the Committee via email at:   ReportNIHGranteeAbuse@mail.house.gov    Additional resources can be found HERE . 



Apr 30, 2024
Press Release

E&C Republicans Press NIH to Confirm Agency Isn’t Funding Russian Research

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), on behalf of the Health and Oversight Subcommittee Republicans, wrote to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Monica Bertagnolli. In the letter, the Chairs ask the NIH to confirm by May 14, 2024, whether the agency has complied with White House guidance to stop funding projects led by researchers and entities in Russia.  BACKGROUND :  On June 11, 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued guidance stating such projects and programs that commenced and/or were funded prior to Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 may be concluded, but new projects in affected subject areas will not be initiated.   The OSTP advised applicable departments and agencies to curtail interaction with the leadership of Russian government-affiliated universities and research institutions, as well as those who have publicly expressed support for the invasion of Ukraine.  In a statement in an April 9, 2023, article in The Washington Times , the NIH’s Office of Extramural Research claimed that “NIH currently does not fund any research in Russia.”  However, the Data Abyss tracker for the OSTP Russia guidance on federal funding agencies indicates that, as of April 5, 2024, the NIH has potentially 240 instances of problematic research collaborations since June 2022 that do not comply with the guidance. CLICK HERE to read the letter.



Apr 17, 2024
Press Release

E&C Republicans Expand Investigation into Sexual Harassment at NIH to now Include Review of HHS Office of Civil Rights Compliance Role

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), on behalf of the Health and Oversight Subcommittee Republicans, wrote to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra.  The letter outlines concerns with the role HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) plays—or fails to play—in investigating instances of sexual harassment that occurs at research institutions which receive grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  KEY EXCERPTS :  “There have been several public reports of sexual harassment occurring on NIH-funded research or NIH-supported activities over the last decade, and it raises concerns about what, if any, actions the NIH has taken to resolve these issues. The NIH’s own statistics show a significant problem with more than 300 cases related to sexual or gender harassment since 2018—with about a third of those allegations being substantiated. This also represents hundreds of men and women who may be forced to operate in a hostile or unsafe research environment.”  [...]  “According to the HHS website, OCR does investigate and resolve complaints of sexual harassment in the education and health programs of recipients of grants or other federal financial assistance from HHS—including the NIH. Moreover, HHS OCR is required to conduct periodic compliance reviews of institutional Title IX programs to ensure compliance with the law—including examining the way in which complaints are handled by the institution.”  The Chairs have requested answers to questions about HHS OCR’s role by April 30, 2024.  BACKGROUND :  Based on a recommendation from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), HHS OCR and the NIH adopted a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to facilitate communication between the two components of HHS as it relates to sexual harassment.   This MOU was intended to clarify procedures on how the enforcement arm of HHS and the grant-making arm share valuable information with one another in an effort to respond appropriately to complaints of sexual harassment and prevent federal grant money from going to those with a history of sexual misconduct.   TIMELINE OF INVESTIGATION :  August 10, 2021 : E&C Republican Leaders Question NIH’s Handling of Sexual Harassment Complaints  August 11, 2022 : E&C Republican Leaders follow up with NIH on Insufficient Response to its Letter on the NIH’s handling of Sexual Harassment  November 30, 2022 : E&C Republicans to NIH: Turn Over Previously Requested Information Ahead of New Congress  March 14, 2023 : E&C Republicans Press NIH for Information on Handling of Sexual Harassment Complaints  October 6, 2023 : E&C Republicans Signal Intent to Issue Subpoenas to Obtain Information on NIH’s Handling of Sexual Harassment if Questions Go Unanswered  January 26, 2024 : Chair Rogers notifies NIH of Imminent Subpoena  February 5, 2024 : Chair Rodgers Subpoenas NIH for Documents Related to Investigation into Sexual Harassment at NIH and NIH Grantee Institutions February 20, 2024: HHS Responds on behalf of NIH to offer a rolling in camera document review to the Committee. Documents produced in the review have been highly redacted, including the redaction of the names of individuals convicted of criminal offenses, public news articles about individuals who have been found guilty of harassment, and redaction of the names of the institutions where the abuse occurred—effectively preventing the Committee from understanding if NIH continues to fund work performed by substantiated abusers at other institutions—a practice known as “pass the harasser.”