Two tenured scientists at a renowned cancer hospital in Houston have resigned, and the hospital is seeking to fire a third, in connection with an investigation into possible foreign attempts to take advantage of its federally funded research, the authorities said.
休斯顿一家著名癌症医院的院方表示,在一项对外国可能试图利用其由联邦政府资助的研究成果的调查中,两名有终身职位的科学家已辞职,院方正在寻求解雇第三名科学家。
The departures are one of the first publicly revealed outcomes of dozens of similar investigations nationwide, as federal officials have increasingly warned of foreign exploitation of American-backed research — particularly from the Chinese.
这些离职是全国范围内几十项类似调查首次公开披露的结果之一,联邦官员已在对外国——尤其是中国——利用美国政府支持的研究成果的做法发出越来越多的警告
The National Institutes of Health raised concerns last fall about the three scientists at the hospital, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, which confirmed on Sunday that it had decided to fire them. Two of the scientists, who have not been identified, resigned instead; the third is in the process of being fired, which requires a hearing in front of peer faculty members and approval by the university’s board of regents.
去年秋天,美国国立卫生研究院(简称NIH)对得克萨斯大学MD安德森癌症中心(University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center)的三名科学家表示了担忧。该中心周日证实,已决定将他们解雇。其中两名选择了辞职,中心没有透露他们的姓名;第三名科学家正在被解雇的过程中,这需要一个有终身职位的教职人员的听证会,并得到学校董事会的批准。
The center said it did not have information about any of the scientists’ nationalities. But in redacted investigative reports, the center referred to ties to China or Chinese residents or institutions in all three cases. The reports say that the researchers failed to disclose international collaborators and that at least one confidential grant application was sent to a scientist in China in violation of federal policy, among other allegations.
该中心说它没有关于这些科学家国籍的信息。但在一份部分涂黑的调查报告中,该中心在这三起案件中都提到了与中国或中国居民、机构的关系。报告称,这些研究人员没有披露他们有国际合作者,至少有一份需要保密的资助申请给了一位在中国的科学家,违反了联邦政策;报告中还涉及其他指控。
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It is not clear from the investigative reports whether the researchers were necessarily being directed by Beijing.
从这些调查报告中看不出来这些研究人员是否一定受了北京的指使。
“A small but significant number of individuals are working with government sponsorship to exfiltrate intellectual property that has been created with the support of U.S. taxpayers, private donors and industry collaborators,” Dr. Peter Pisters, the center’s president, said in a statement on Sunday.
“值得注意的少数个人在政府资助的帮助下,对外泄露用美国纳税人、私人捐助者和行业合作伙伴支持创造的知识产权,”MD安德森中心的院长彼得·皮斯特斯(Peter Pisters)博士周日在一份声明中说。
“At risk is America’s internationally acclaimed system of funding biomedical research, which is based on the principles of trust, integrity and merit.”
“这让美国在国际上享有盛誉的生物医学研究资助体系面临风险,该体系的基础是信任、诚信和择优支持。”
The N.I.H. had also flagged two other researchers at MD Anderson. One investigation is proceeding, the center said, and the evidence did not warrant firing the other researcher.
NIH还对MD安德森中心的另外两名研究人员表示关注。该中心说,一项调查正在进行中,对另一名研究人员的调查得到的证据不足以证明将其解雇的理由。
The news of the firings was first reported by The Houston Chronicle and Science magazine.
《休斯顿纪事报》(The Houston Chronicle)和《科学》杂志(Science)最先报道了这些解雇的消息。
The investigations began after Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, sent a letter in August to more than 10,000 institutions the agency funds, warning of “threats to the integrity of U.S. biomedical research.”
调查是在NIH院长弗朗西斯·S·柯林斯(Francis S. Collins)去年8月致函NIH资助的1万多家机构后开始的,柯林斯警告“美国生物医学研究的诚实正直性受到威胁”。
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Federal officials said they found that some researchers had shared with Beijing intellectual property and pilfered confidential information from grant applications. Other researchers had failed to disclose that they were receiving money from foreign sources while being funded by the N.I.H.
联邦官员说,他们发现一些研究人员与北京分享了知识产权以及从资助申请中窃取的保密信息。其他研究人员没有透露,他们在接受NIH资助的同时从外国拿钱。
Federal officials have said that some scientists have run “shadow laboratories” in China while conducting N.I.H.-funded research in the United States. This month, the N.I.H. said 55 institutions across the country are investigating such concerns.
联邦官员曾表示,一些科学家在美国进行NIH资助的研究,同时还在中国运行“影子实验室”。NIH本月说,美国各地有55家机构正在对此类担忧进行调查。
“These incidents are not unique to MD Anderson and we remind universities to look closely at their organizations to mitigate unscrupulous practices by foreign entities that aim to capitalize on the collaborative nature of the U.S. biomedical enterprise,” the agency said in a statement on Sunday.
“这些事件并非只发生在MD安德森,我们提醒大学密切关注他们的部门,以减少外国实体旨在利用美国生物医学事业中的合作性质而采取的不道德行为,”NIH在周日的一份声明中说。
At a hearing this month, Dr. Collins said that while attention from politicians and the news media has largely focused on Chinese schemes — particularly a program, called the Thousand Talents Plan, designed to lure global experts from Western universities and companies — other countries have also engaged in similar practices. He did not specify what other countries were involved.
柯林斯在本月的一个听证会上说,虽然政客和新闻媒体的注意力主要集中在中国项目上——尤其是一个名为“千人计划”、旨在吸引来自西方大学和公司的全球专家的项目,其他国家也采用了类似的做法。他没有具体说明哪些国家也在这样做。
He said the F.B.I. has been “investigating vigorously.” The F.B.I. declined to comment on Sunday.
他说,联邦调查局一直在“积极调查”。FBI周日拒绝置评。
Dr. Collins said at the hearing that there were an “increasing number of instances where faculty members have been fired,” though he did not specify how many or where those people might have worked.
柯林斯在听证会上说,“教职人员被解雇的情况越来越多”,但他没有给出具体数字,也没有说明被解雇的人曾在哪里工作。
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“My own estimation is it’s the tip of the iceberg and that we will see more evidence of problems in the near future,” said Ross McKinney, chief scientific officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges.
“我本人的估计是,这只是冰山一角,我们在不久的将来会看到更多问题的证据,”美国医学院校联合会(Association of American Medical Colleges)首席科学官罗斯·麦金尼(Ross McKinney)说。
Part of the increased attention on possible exploitation of biomedical research is because China’s ambitions have risen in recent years, particularly in science and technology, said Scott Kennedy, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who briefed an N.I.H. panel on the topic.
华盛顿国际战略研究中心(Center for Strategic and International Studies)高级顾问斯科特·肯尼迪(Scott Kennedy)说,人们对利用生物医学研究的可能性越来越关注,部分原因是近年来中国的野心越来越大,尤其是在科学和技术方面。他向NIH的一个小组介绍了这方面的情况。
“It certainly is possible that just more is coming to light,” he said. “But my guess is the level of activism and international science engagement has grown, and our systems are just gradually trying to catch back up.”
“当然有可能会有更多的案例曝光,”肯尼迪说。“但我的猜测是,国际科学的参与和活跃水平都已提高,我们的体制只是在慢慢试图补救而已。”
The N.I.H. is in a difficult situation, he said, because it wants to encourage international collaboration.
他说,NIH的处境不容易,因为它要鼓励国际合作。
In the cancer center’s reports, it said it began investigating one scientist based in part on an N.I.H. complaint that the scientist had sent at least one grant application to a researcher in China. It believed that another researcher held an undisclosed position at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and that a third held an appointment at the Beijing Municipal Administration of Hospitals, among other findings about possible conflicts of interest and disclosure requirements.
MD安德森癌症研究中心在报告中说,中心开始对一名科学家进行调查,部分原因是NIH投诉该科学家至少把一份资助申请发给了中国的一名研究人员。中心相信另一名研究人员在中国医学科学院有一个未披露的职位,还有一名研究人员在北京市医院管理局任职,调查还发现了可能的利益冲突和未按规定披露等问题。
The Trump administration has recently expressed concern about Chinese interest in American research and technology as the countries jockey for global influence and supremacy.
随着中美两国在全球争夺影响力和优势地位,特朗普政府最近就中国对美国研究和技术的兴趣表示了担忧。
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While the public focus has been on biomedical research funded by the National Institutes of Health, similar concerns have emerged for research funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, Dr. McKinney said.
麦金尼说,虽然公开的注意力一直集中在NIH资助的生物医学研究上,但美国国家科学基金会(National Science Foundation)、国防部(Department of Defense)和能源部(Department of Energy)资助的研究中也出现了类似的担忧。
In June, the federal government moved to limit the duration of visas for some Chinese students in certain high-tech fields, alarming academics who said it would have a chilling effect on the influx of talent provided by international students.
去年6月,联邦政府采取行动,限制某些高技术领域一些中国学生的签证期限,这令一些学者担心,这种做法会对国际学生的人才涌入产生寒蝉效应。
Many have questioned the public scrutiny on China, raising concerns about racial profiling. A December report commissioned by the N.I.H. said officials believe that only a “small number of scientists” committed violations. The report also pointed out that 39 percent of the Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry and medicine won by Americans have gone to foreign-born scientists.
许多人对公开审查中国的做法提出质疑,引发了人们对种族刻板定性的担忧。NIH去年12月委托他方撰写的一份报告说,官员们认为,只有“少数科学家”违反了规定。这份报告还指出,获得物理、化学和医学诺贝尓奖的美国人中,有39%的得主是外国出生的科学家。
“We need to be careful that we don’t step into something that feels almost a little bit like racial profiling,” Dr. Collins said.
“我们需要小心谨慎,以免涉足哪怕是有点像种族刻板定性的事情,”科林斯说。