Charles M. Lieber
29 January 2020
Charles M. Lieber, the Head of Harvard’s chemistry department, lied about his contacts with a Chinese state-run initiative called Thousand Talents program, that seeks to draw foreign-educated talent. Two other Chinese nationals were indicted in two separate cases for allegedly lying to the US about their involvement with China’s government.
US Attorney Andrew Lelling said that Lieber collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from Chinese entities. Lieber’s research group at Harvard had received over $15 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defence on condition that, the research group discloses all foreign financial conflicts of interests.
Harvard called the charges “extremely serious,” and is conducting its own investigation of the alleged misconduct.
The complaint alleges that Lieber had lied about his connection with the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in China and a contract he had with a Chinese talent recruitment plan to attract high-ranking scientists to the country. He received $50,000 per month from the Chinese university and another $1.5 million to establish a nanoscience research lab at WUT. Dr. Lieber should have disclosed this to the Harvard University. The moneys from the WUT should have gone to the University. The university could then pay him for his extra work.
Dr. Lieber is a pioneer in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology. In 2011, he was recognized by Thomson Reuters as the leading chemist in the world for the decade 2000-2010 based on the impact of his scientific publications.
The Justice Department started a campaign to root out scientists who are stealing research from American laboratories. For months there has been news about the prosecution of scientists, mainly Chinese graduate students and researchers working in American laboratories. But Dr. Lieber represents a different kind of target, a star researcher and an American national who rose to the highest position in the American academia.
The US attorney’s office said in a separate indictment that Yanqing Ye, a 29-year-old Chinese national, was charged with visa fraud, making false statements, conspiracy and being an unregistered agent. While she was employed as a scientific researcher at Boston University, she falsely identified herself as a “student” on her visa application and lied about her military service with a rank of lieutenant with the People’s Liberation Army. She is accused of accessing US military websites and sending US documents and information to China, according to charges filed by the department. Yanqing is currently in China.
In a separate indictment a cancer researcher, Zaosong Zheng is said to have tried to smuggle 21 vials of biological material out of the US to China and lying about it to federal investigators. Her entry was sponsored by Harvard University. She hid the vials in a sock before boarding the plane. The U.S. Attorney said that these are typical ways in which American technology and know-how are siphoned off to China. Zaosong was arrested and charged last month. He has been detained since December 30.
CNN news reported.