Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing on Foreign Threats to Taxpayer-Funded Research

On June 5, the Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing to discuss the espionage of publicly funded medical research by foreign governments as well as potential oversight or policy solutions. Witnesses present were Assistant Deputy Secretary for National Security at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Captain Michael Schmoyer, Principal Deputy Director at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Dr. Lawrence Tabak, Chief of Investigative Operations at the HHS Office of Inspector General Les Hollie, Deputy Assistant Director of Homeland Security Investigations at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Louis Rodi, and Associate Director for Biophysical Oncology at the Knight Cancer Institute and Oregon Health & Science University Biomedical Engineering Director Dr. Joe Gray. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) was invited to testify but declined the invitation.

Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) both expressed concerns with foreign research espionage and questioned the witnesses on the investigations of the 61 identified espionage cases. Some of the issues raised during the hearing included the cooperation between the FBI and federal agencies, the investigative infrastructure at federal agencies, common indicators of federal grant fraud, and the cooperation of universities with federal espionage investigations. Following the hearing, the Committee met in closed session to discuss classified information with the witnesses. A written statement from Grassley along with witness testimonies and a recording of the open hearing can be found on the Committee’s website.

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