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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 10, 2020 6 months ago

State legislators move forward on Moffitt investigation

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House Rules Committee Chairman and House Speaker Designate Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Clearwater, will chair the select committee.

The Chinese medical studies influence scandal that cost Moffitt Cancer Center CEO and globally known cancer physician Dr. Alan List his job will get a new look from state officials.

The Florida House will investigate Chinese meddling in taxpayer-funded research, according to a report in The Center Square-Florida, a state watchdog news service. The move comes after a series of resignations at Moffitt, a research nonprofit the Legislature created in 1981 at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, intends to convene a select committee to examine allegations that surfaced in an internal Moffitt probe that documented collaboration between its staff and Chinese institutions seeking to influence, compromise and steal study findings. In addition to List, Moffitt Director Timothy Sellers and four researchers suddenly resigned Dec. 18 after the probe indicated they violated conflict of interest guidelines through personal involvement with a Chinese initiative to recruit researchers from American and European universities and companies.

Moffitt’s review examined staff members’ participation in China's "Thousand Talents" program, which recruits global researchers and academics. It has turned its results over to state and federal agencies, The Center Square reports.

Alleged Chinese infiltration of U.S. universities and research centers has been a concern for more than a decade. Moffitt is among several federal grant recipients urged by the National Institutes of Health to determine if foreign entities, primarily Chinese, are attempting to access their research.

House Rules Committee Chairman and House Speaker Designate Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Clearwater, will chair the select committee. He will have broad jurisdiction, Oliva says, “to investigate, introduce legislation and make reports … for further action.”

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