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Moffitt Cancer Center CEO steps down over China controversy

Dr. Alan List’s resignation comes as federal agencies cracked down on countries taking advantage of American-funded medical research.
Credit: Moffitt Cancer Center

TAMPA, Fla — It’s one of the world’s best cancer centers.

Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa has a reputation for successfully performing advanced treatments and cutting-edge research – but that taxpayer-funded research may have been benefiting an American adversary.

President and CEO Dr. Alan List resigned Wednesday.

The Tampa Bay Times reports he’s been under pressure as federal agencies probe China’s potential exploitation of America’s extensive – and expensive – cancer research. Moffitt says the National Institutes of Health started warning about the problem in 2018, and Moffitt’s own investigators started looking into the hospital’s ties to Chinese research firms.

They found ‘several compliance violations.’

Credit: AP
Dr. Alan List, President and CEO, Moffitt Cancer Center, speaks at Moffitt's Research Innovations reception at the Metropolitan Club, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in New York. (Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Moffitt Cancer Center)

“This great institution did its job: We listened to the warnings from NIH, conducted a proactive review, and took strong action when it was needed,” said founder H. Lee Moffitt.

At the center of the investigation is List’s – and others’ – connection to China’s ‘Thousand Talents’ program, which recruits American and European researchers.

Moffitt said in a statement its investigation found no evidence that patients or research at the cancer center was negatively affected.

“At Moffitt, we pride ourselves not only on our life-saving research and world-class patient care, but also on transparency and integrity among all our employees. This was an unfortunate but necessary decision,” said Moffitt board chairman Timothy J. Adams.

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