Science & Security: Recent Developments

Columbia University is closely monitoring activities by Congress and Federal agencies relating to Science and Security. This site will be updated as new rules, updates, guidance or clarifications to existing requirements are issued.

  • The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has added regulations to implement an Executive order related to specified harmful foreign activities of the Government of the Russian Federation. For more information on these sanctions please visit the Federal Register notice about this update. To learn more about the impact of these sanctions on Columbia activities, please visit Columbia's Economic Sanctions and Restricted Parties website. (posted March 8 2022)

  • As of February 22nd 2022, the U.S. government has imposed a new sanctions regime against the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) regions of Ukraine, in response to continued Russian efforts to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Visit the treasury department's website to learn more about the situation in Ukraine and the response taken by the United States. To learn more about the impact of these sanctions on Columbia activities, please visit Columbia's Economic Sanctions and Restricted Parties website. (posted March 8 2022)

  • The U.S. Commerce Department added 33 entities in China to its “Unverified List” that U.S. persons and organizations must treat with caution. Of the 33 newly added entities, two are universities and research institutes that are now subject to additional export control restrictions; Hunan University State Key Lab of Chemo/Biosensing & Chemometrics and Southern University of Science and Technology, Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering. For more information please see the Federal Register notice about this update. (posted February 8 2022)


  • On December 21st 2021, a federal jury found Dr. Charles Lieber, a Harvard University professor, guilty of two counts of making false statements to the U.S. government about whether he participated in Thousand Talents Plan, a program designed by the Chinese government to attract foreign-educated scientists to China. They also found him guilty of failing to declare income earned in China and failing to report a Chinese bank account. Read the full story here. (posted December 23 2021)


  • China Initiative aims to stop economic espionage. Is targeting academics over grant fraud ‘overkill’? A string of dismissed cases has amplified concerns among some lawmakers and activists about whether prosecutors have been overzealous in pursuing researchers of Chinese descent. The issue goes beyond whether the government is bringing prosecutions it can win. Critics say the cases raise the question of whether a program designed to address a national security threat posed by the Chinese government has strayed, targeting researchers on lesser allegations of fraud without compelling evidence that they pose a danger to the United States. Full story available here. (posted September 24 2021) 


  • A federal judge acquitted a former University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), engineering professor who had been accused of lying to NASA and trying to hide his ties to a Chinese university. The government failed to show that Anming Hu, who was arrested in February 2020 and then fired from his tenured position as an associate professor, had the intent to do harm and deprive NASA of something of value. More information on this case is available here(posted September 24 2021) 


  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a summary of its findings, from 2016 to 2021, regarding foreign interference in NIH funding and grant making processes. The report is available here. (posted August 18 2021)


  • On April 21st 2021, a federal grand jury in Carbondale, IL. returned an indictment charging a mathematics professor and researcher at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale (SIUC) with two counts of wire fraud and one count of making a false statement. According to court documents, the professor fraudulently obtained $151,099 in federal grant money from the National Science Foundation (NSF) by concealing support he was receiving from the Chinese government and a Chinese university. For more information, please read the Department of Justice's press release. (posted April 30 2021)


  • The U.S. Department of Commerce announced a settlement with Princeton University for allegations that Princeton sent various strains and recombinants of animal pathogens controlled under the U.S. Export Administration Regulations to various overseas research institutions without the required export control licenses.  The animal pathogens were controlled under Export Control Classification Numbers (ECCN) 1C351 and 1C352.  Genetic elements of the pathogens were controlled under ECCN 1C353.  A copy of the settlement is available here.  A list of currently controlled human and animal pathogens and toxins (ECCN 1C351), genetic elements and genetically modified organism (ECCN 1C353) is available on the U.S. Commerce Department’s Commerce Control List, available here. (posted February 3 2021)


  • On January 14th 2021, a professor and researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was charged and arrested in connection with failing to disclose contracts, appointments and awards from various entities in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to the U.S. Department of Energy. For more information, please read the Department of Justice's press release. (posted January 14 2021)


  • On of December 18th 2020, the Commerce Department added seventy-seven (77) entities to the Entity List, including the UAV manufacturing company DJI, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), and five Chinese universities (Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing University of Posts & Telecommunications, Nanjing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Nanjing University of Science & Technology, and Tianjin University). For more information about this rule and a complete list of the entities added, please see the Federal Register Notice. For an updated list of restricted universities, please visit Columbia’s Sanctions and Restricted Parties website(posted December 23 2020)


  • A new Military End User (MEU) list for entities in China and Russia has been published by the Commerce Department. This list is non-exhaustive but informs exporters that a license will be required to export designated items to the listed entities. You can review the MEU list here. (posted December 23 2020)


  • In recent months, the Commerce Department has imposed new export control restrictions on certain “emerging technologies” in a variety of areas.  A list of these emerging technologies and links to the Commerce Department rules is available on Columbia’s Export Controls webpage, available here. (posted December 4 2020)

  • The Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET) has created a tracker to catalog publicly available information about Chinese Talent Recruitment Programs. The Chinese Talent Program Tracker is a catalogue of Chinese Party-State-sponsored initiatives aimed at cultivating China’s domestic talent pool in support of China’s strategic civilian and military goals. To learn more, visit the CSET website. (posted November 12 2020)

  • As of August 13, 2020, federal agencies are prohibited from entering into contracts with an entity that uses certain telecommunications or video surveillance equipment or services produced by Huawei Technologies Company, ZTE Corporation, Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, Dahua Technology Company, or subsidiaries or affiliates of these companies.  For updated information about this prohibition and for a list of these companies’ subsidiaries and affiliates, visit Columbia’s Sanctions and Restricted Parties webpage. (posted October 02 2020)

  • The Hoover Institution recently issued a new report, Global Engagement: Rethinking Risk in the Research Enterprise, which examines the relationships between U.S. institutions of higher learning and their counterparts in China. You can read the report here (posted August 28 2020)

  • A NASA researcher and Texas A&M University professor has been charged with accepting federal grant money while hiding work he was doing for a university established by the Chinese government as well as his affiliation with Chinese-owned companies. More information is available here and here (posted August 28 2020)

  • A rheumatology researcher was recently arrested and charged with grant fraud and making false statements to the NIH for failing to disclose his relationships in China. More information is available here and here (posted July 10th 2020) 

  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recently hosted the webinar Enhancing the Security and Integrity of America’s Research Enterprise. You can review the webinar slides here (posted June 26th 2020)

  • On May 29th, the White House issued a proclamation that suspends the entry of Chinese citizens into the U.S. with an F or J visa to study or conduct research in the U.S. at the graduate or post-doctoral level and who, currently or in the past, are affiliated with an entity in China that implements or support China’s “military-civil fusion” strategy. For more information, please visit Columbia’s International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) website (posted June 9th 2020)

  • A former Cleveland Clinic employee was arrested and charged with fraud for failing to disclose to NIH that he held a position at a foreign university, received grant funds from a foreign government for the same research funded by NIH, and participated in China’s Thousand Talents Program. For more information, read the Department of Justice’s press release and this Reuters news article (posted May 15 2020)

  • A University of Arkansas professor was recently arrested and charged with wire fraud due to his failure to disclose his ties to the Chinese government and Chinese companies to NASA. The FBI is currently investigating the case. More information is available on the Department of Justice website and in this NY Times article (posted May 13 2020)

  • A former professor at West Virginia University pled guilty to “Federal Program Fraud” for fraudulent statements regarding his affiliation with a foreign government talent recruitment program. More information is available here (posted Mar 19 2020)

  • A former Emory University neuroscientist has been charged with defrauding the U.S. government by taking a salary from a Chinese institution while also being paid through research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Read the story here (posted Feb 7 2020)

  • U.S. prosecutor discusses DOJ’s “China Initiative” and the recent arrest of Harvard’s Charles Lieber.  Read the article here  (posted Feb 3 2020)

  • The U.S. Department of Justice announced yesterday that a prominent Harvard professor has been arrested and charged with making false statements about his ties to a foreign talent recruitment program and university in China. Articles in Science and the New York Times provide additional information about his arrest (posted Jan 29 2020)
  • A cancer researcher traveling from Boston to China was arrested after U.S. Customs agents searched his luggage and found multiple vials of cancer cells taken from a laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  Under questioning, the researcher acknowledged that he had stolen the samples and replicated more based on a colleague’s research, and that he planned to publish the results under his own name.  Read the New York Times article here (posted Jan 2 2020)
  • Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) will pay $5.5 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by submitting federal grant applications and progress reports to the NIH in which VARI failed to disclose Chinese government funding for two VARI researchers. Read the Department of Justice press release here (posted Dec 20 2019)
  • The NSF commissioned JASON, an independent group of scientists that advises the U.S. Government on science and technology matters, to assess whether the openness of the U.S. academic fundamental research ecosystem is being taken advantage of by other countries. The resulting JASON report, titled Fundamental Research Security, was released in December 2019. Read the JASON report Fundamental Research Security (posted Dec 16 2019)
  • The U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations recently released a report, Threats to the U.S. Research Enterprise: China’s Talent Recruitment Plans. The report reviews the impacts these talent recruitment plans have on the U.S. research enterprise. A copy of the report is available here (posted Dec 16 2019)

  • The NY Times recently reported that there are nearly 200 ongoing investigations of potential intellectual property theft at universities. Read the NY Times article (posted Dec 12 2019)