This week, the Board of Directors of Moffitt Cancer Center accepted the resignation of its president and CEO, Dr. Alan List, and the center director, Thomas Sellers, for violations of conflict of interest rules through their work in China.
Moffitt initiated an internal review of team members’ collaborations with research institutions in China after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) warned all its grant recipients of foreign efforts to influence or compromise U.S. researchers. Moffitt found several compliance violations that also prompted separation of four additional researchers.
Moffitt’s review focused on its team members’ participation in China’s “Thousand Talents” Program, which recruits global researchers and academics. Moffitt has shared the preliminary findings of its ongoing review with the federal government and will continue to examine its internal procedures for the protection of its intellectual property.
Moffitt says there is no indication research was compromised or patient care affected.
“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,” said Timothy J. Adams, institute board chairman, will assume overall operational responsibilities in the interim.
“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 is proud to have 7,000 of the finest medical professionals in the world fighting every day to treat and cure cancer. That is what mattered yesterday, and that is what will matter tomorrow.”
Moffitt also is thoroughly reviewing its 12-year partnership with China’s Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital for the training of oncology practitioners, including through international exchanges.
Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Jose Oliva, expressed “grave concern” over the situation at Moffitt.
“The news coming out of Moffitt Cancer Center are of great concern and compel further investigation. While Moffitt’s leadership acted swiftly and decisively, a deeper look into this and all of our institutions is in order.
“To these ends, I have asked Speaker-designate and former prosecutor, Representative Chris Sprowls, to lead our preliminary investigative efforts.
“Floridians, and all Americans, should be greatly concerned at both the potential theft of intellectual property and the corruption it implies. Compromising our public health and research institutions puts all of us at risk. The Florida House will do everything in our power to hold people, and institutions, accountable.”