Committee created to inquire into Chinese meddling at research universities

Published: Jan. 7, 2020 at 4:17 PM EST
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By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News

January 7, 2020

TALLAHASSEE (WCTV) — State house speakers are creating a committee to inquire into possible Chinese meddling at Florida State University and other Florida research centers.

The resignation of the CEO at Moffitt Cancer Center and several researchers sparked allegations of Chinese meddling in taxpayer funded cancer research. The select committee reviewing all tax-payer funded research schools will have broad jurisdiction to investigate, introduce legislation and make reports to the Speaker and the House for further action. The select committee will be chaired by Rules Committee chairman and Speaker designate Chris Sprowls.

Dr. Gary Ostrander, FSU's Vice President of Research, says this is an issue that those in the arena have been aware of for some time now.

According to Ostrander, universities have been trying to get on top of the issue of foreign espionage for two years. He says FSU has always had warnings in place to protect their research and information, but now they have a heightened awareness.

The university has stepped up its safeguards.

Dr. Ostrander says the issue is frustrating.

"It's really kind of sad. Universities are all about the exchange of ideas, open environments," he says. "They've always been that. Folks come from around the world, it's a relatively safe environment. You throw out ideas. It's all changing right now, and that's really kind of sad."

Dr. Ostrander says at the end of the review, he believes committee members will be impressed by the research going on statewide, and will be comfortable with how it's being done.

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