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Friday, July 23rd, 2021

Lawmakers inquire about biomedical research foreign influence

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Three lawmakers recently forwarded correspondence to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) requesting insight regarding efforts to address foreign biomedical research influence.

Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), Health Subcommittee Republican Leader Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican Leader Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) sent the letters to NIH Director Francis Collins and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

“As the largest funder of biomedical research in the world, the NIH research community faces significant exposure to risks related to undue foreign influence on research, with more than 80 percent of NIH funding awarded to more than 300,000 researchers at more than 2,500 research institutions globally,” the lawmakers wrote. “Recently, Federal Bureau of Investigations Director Christopher Wray described how Chinese researchers intentionally conceal participation in Chinese talent recruitment programs while accepting millions of dollars in U.S. federal grant funding as part of a larger agenda secretly to steal and bring U.S. knowledge and innovation back to China.”

E&C Republican leaders requested a briefing from NIH detailing how the actions taken address foreign influence in its budget document, and a briefing from the FBI on how the Bioterrorism Risk Assessment Group (BRAG) detects foreign conflicts in the Federal Select Agent Program (FSAP) and Security Risk Assessment (SRA) Program.

“Plans for ensuring FSAP and biomedical research program integrity and security is of great public interest and needs to be protected from intellectual property theft and undue foreign influence,” the lawmakers concluded.