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Moffitt Cancer Center President, Director Resign Amid China Investigation

The president of Moffitt Cancer Center along with its director and four researchers resigned amid an investigation into Chinese efforts to influence or compromise U.S. researchers, the hospital announced on Wednesday.
Moffitt Cancer Center
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Updated at 3 p.m. ET:

The president and CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center resigned on Wednesday amid an investigation into Chinese efforts to influence or compromise U.S. researchers.

Moffitt’s board accepted Dr. Alan List’s resignation along with the resignations of the center’s director Thomas Sellers and four researchers for violating conflict of interest rules while working with China, according to a statement from the hospital.

Moffitt began investigating after the National Institutes of Health warned all of its grant recipients about foreign efforts to influence or compromise U.S. researchers.   

Officials said the hospital found several compliance violations but found no indications that its research was compromised.

Moffitt’s board chairman Timothy J. Adams will oversee the center while a national search is conducted for a new CEO.

“At Moffitt, we pride ourselves not only on our life-saving research and world-class patient care, but also on transparency and integrity among all our employees. This was an unfortunate but necessary decision,” Adams in a release. “Going forward, this will not damage the future of our research or the care of our patients. We will continue to be careful stewards of the public money entrusted to us for cancer research.”

Moffitt conducted an internal review of employee collaborations with research institutions in China. The review centered on participation in a Chinese program called “Thousand Talents,” which recruits researchers and academics from around the world, the hospital said.

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Moffitt said it shared the results of its investigation with the federal government.

“This great institution did its job:  We listened to the warnings from NIH, conducted a proactive review, and took strong action when it was needed,” founder and former Speaker of the House H. Lee Moffitt, said in a statement.

The hospital said it will continue to examine its practices to ensure that its intellectual property is safe, officials said in the statement.

“Recognizing the war on cancer transcends borders, Moffitt more than a decade ago seized the opportunity to pair with foreign academics and researchers, a practice encouraged by the U.S. government,” the statement said. “However, in recent years, the federal government has become concerned about foreign interests targeting U.S. universities and academic medical centers to duplicate technology and intellectual property.”

Moffitt officials also said they will review the center’s partnership with China’s Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, which has been in place for 12 years.

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Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.
Julio Ochoa
Julio Ochoa is editor of Health News Florida.