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Cleveland doctor arrested for sharing research with Chinese government

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Posted at 9:46 AM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 13:06:27-04

A doctor in Cleveland was arrested and is accused of failing to disclose his affiliation with a college in China while accepting multiple grants from the U.S. and China. He is also charged with giving research to the Chinese government.

According to the criminal complaint, a former doctor at Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Qing Wang, failed to disclose to the National Institutes of Health that he had an affiliation and was a dean of a college at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology. The complaint stated that he received multiple grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China for some of the same scientific research funded by the NIH grant.

Wang also allegedly participated in the Thousand Talents Program, a program established by the Chinese government to recruit individuals with access to or knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property.

As a result of participating in the program, China provided $3 million in research support to enhance the facilities and operations at the Key Lab at the university.

Wang received free travel and lodging for his trips to China, which included a three-bedroom apartment on campus for his personal use.

According to the claims, this happened at the time he was receiving NIH grant funds.

"As this case demonstrates, Chinese government-supported talent plans continue to encourage people, regardless of nationality, to commit crimes, such as fraud to obtain U.S. taxpayer-funded research," said Robert R. Wells, Acting Assistant Director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division. "The FBI and our partners will continue to rigorously investigate these illegal activities to protect our government, educational, and research institutions."

"This is not a case of simple omission," said FBI Cleveland Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith. "Dr. Wang deliberately failed to disclose his Chinese grants and foreign positions and even engaged in a pervasive pattern of fraud to avoid criminal culpability. The collective efforts of the FBI, HHS-OIG, and Cleveland Clinic officials demonstrate our commitment to hold those like Dr. Wang accountable."

"As alleged in the complaint, this defendant misled the National Institutes of Health about the support he received and research he conducted in the People's Republic of China," said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio. "Federal law enforcement remains vigilant to fraudulent claims for grant support from any researcher who fails to disclose support from foreign governments and competing for research interests in other countries. We appreciate the cooperation of this defendant's former employer, the Cleveland Clinic, in the investigation and highlight the important partnerships between federal agencies, law enforcement, and the private sector demonstrated in this case."

Wang was arrested at his Shaker Heights home on Wednesday.

He has been charged with false claims and wire fraud related to more than $3.6 million in grant funding that he and his research group at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation received from NIH.

The Cleveland Clinic issued the following statement on Wang's arrest:

" The National Institutes of Health (NIH) raised concerns to Cleveland Clinic whether Dr. Qing Wang appropriately disclosed foreign research ties to China. Cleveland Clinic conducted an internal review into these matters. Based on the results of that review, Dr. Wang's employment at the Cleveland Clinic was terminated. Cleveland Clinic has cooperated fully with the NIH and with federal law enforcement as they conducted their own investigations into these same subjects and will continue to do so. Cleveland Clinic takes seriously its obligations to be a good steward of the federal research funds entrusted to us. Cleveland Clinic appreciates the commitment by the NIH and federal law enforcement to the integrity and security of research being conducted by the academic community across the country."

WEWS's Courtney Shaw originally reported this story.