After the resignations of officials at Moffitt Cancer Center because of issues involving work in China, state House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, announced Monday the formation of a select committee to probe foreign involvement in taxpayer-funded research.
The committee will be chaired by Rep. Chris Sprowls, a Palm Harbor attorney who is slated to become House speaker in November. Its vice chairman will be Rep. Tom Leek, an Ormond Beach attorney who heads the House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee.
The announcement came after Moffitt Cancer Center said Dec. 18 that President and CEO Alan List and center director Thomas Sellers had resigned because of alleged violations of conflict-of-interest rules related to work in China.
The Tampa cancer center, which receives state funding, said in a news release that it began a review of collaborations with research institutions in China after the National Institutes of Health warned about foreign efforts to influence or compromise U.S. researchers.
In addition to List and Sellers, compliance violations led to the departures of four Moffitt researchers.
“With the recent revelations of Chinese meddling in Florida taxpayer-funded research as well as wrongdoing on the part of leadership at the Moffitt Cancer Center, I am announcing today the formation of a select committee to investigate any further improper or illegal activities involving Florida’s research universities, medical research facilities and individuals associated with such institutions,” Oliva said in a statement Monday.