House Speaker Jose Oliva is calling for further investigation into the Moffitt Cancer Center and its ties to China after the center’s CEO, director and four researchers announced their resignations on Wednesday.
Olivia asked Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, to lead the investigation into Moffitt and other state institutions.
“The news coming out of Moffitt Cancer Center are of great concern and compel further investigation,” Oliva said in a statement released Thursday. “While Moffitt’s leadership acted swiftly and decisively, a deeper look into this and all of our institutions is in order.”
Moffitt’s CEO and President Dr. Alan List resigned along with the center’s director Thomas Sellers and four researchers for violating conflict of interest rules while working with China, according to a statement from the hospital.
Moffitt began investigating after the National Institutes of Health warned all of its grant recipients about foreign efforts to influence or compromise U.S. researchers.
Moffitt conducted an internal review of employee collaborations with research institutions in China. The review centered on participation in a Chinese program called “Thousand Talents,” which recruits researchers and academics from around the world, the hospital said.
Officials said the hospital found several compliance violations but found no indications that its research was compromised.
In his statement, Olivia said the House will do everything in its power to hold people and institutions accountable.
“Floridians, and all Americans, should be greatly concerned at both the potential theft of intellectual property and the corruption it implies,” Olivia wrote. “Compromising our public health and research institutions puts all of us at risk.
The hospital announced that Moffitt’s board chairman Timothy J. Adams will oversee the center while a national search is conducted for a new CEO.