3 MD Anderson faculty members accused of violations involving 'foreign influence'

HOUSTON – Three MD Anderson Cancer Center faculty members are accused of violations of data security and intellectual property involving "foreign influence."

Two of the three employees, who have not been identified, resigned in the early stages of the termination process, while the third is moving through the process, the institution said.

MD Anderson did not provide much information, but said the allegations stem from concerns by the National Institutes of Health about foreign influence regarding intellectual property and the peer review process for biomedical research.

According to the NIH, "three areas of concern that emerged were diversion of intellectual property, sharing of confidential information on grant applications and failure by some researchers to disclose substantial resources from outside organizations, including foreign entities, which threatens to distort decisions about appropriate use of NIH funds."

"MD Anderson remains committed to the highest levels of scientific integrity, public accountability and social responsibility in the conduct of science," said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson. "We do so with an unending focus on ethics, our core value of Integrity and a shared commitment to maintain the extraordinary levels of trust the public has placed in us."

MD Anderson said no patient information was accessed or shared.

"We have an obligation to do all we can to protect our intellectual property and all state and federal resources entrusted to us," said Pisters. "We must be vigilant in protecting the outstanding work of our faculty and ensuring our continued ability to conduct world-class research in our pursuit to end cancer."

MD Anderson sent a statement to KPRC2 that read: "After in-depth investigations by UT System and MD Anderson officials, violations of NIH and MD Anderson rules and policies led to the initiation of termination processes for three tenured faculty members. The termination process for tenured faculty members includes constitutional due process protections, entails a hearing in front of a panel of peer faculty members, and ultimately requires review and approval by the UT System Board of Regents. Two of the faculty members elected to resign in the early stages of the process and one process is ongoing."

You can read the full MD Anderson statement posted on its website here.