Briefing: US cancer center firings stoke fears of racial profiling, China clampdown
Apr 24, 2019
What happened: At a meeting today regarding a recent report by Science and Houston Chronicle detailing how the National Institutes of Health asked cancer research and treatment center MD Anderson to investigate rule violations by at least five of its scientists, employees raised concerns about racial profiling and xenophobia because all of the investigated faculty are “Asian” and at least three of them are ethnically Chinese. Three of the investigated employees were fired for violations including failure to protect the confidentiality of peer reviews and failure to report foreign funding and business ties.
Why it’s important: This news of scientific misconduct comes at a time when academia is still reeling from the ethics scandal sparked by Chinese scientist He Jiankui’s CRISPR babies experiment. Nevertheless, MD Anderson’s chief medical executive Stephen Hahn was quoted saying, “You’re hearing from the top of the institution that we are not abandoning working with the rest of the world, including China,” a sentiment recently echoed by the CEO of Dutch chipmaker ASML, who said that the theft of the company’s intellectual property on behalf of a Chinese firm would not have “any implication for ASML conducting business in China.”