Tampa Bay Times by Justine Griffin
January 18, 2020
TAMPA — For years, Dr. Alan List and Dr. Sheng Wei worked closely at Moffitt Cancer Center to find cures and build bridges. Their accomplishments included a new therapy to treat a class of cancers affecting the bone marrow and blood, and a 12-year partnership with a top cancer hospital in Wei’s native China.
“As a team, we just click,” List, the Moffitt CEO, told an in-house publication in 2018. “Dr. Wei and I complement each other in ways that are hard to put into words.”
Now, according to a report obtained Saturday by the Tampa Bay Times, their collaboration — and their strong links to China — are at the center of a flap that recently cost them their jobs, put Moffitt’s reputation at risk and ignited an investigation by the Florida Legislature.
The report says List was recruited by Wei to join the Thousand Talents Program, created by China to boost the country’s competitiveness by bringing top Chinese researchers and entrepreneurs back home from overseas while also attracting foreign experts. It said Wei helped List and other Moffitt employees set up personal bank accounts in China to receive tens of thousands of dollars in payments from Thousand Talents.
The program has been criticized by many in the U.S. government as a way for China to improperly access “U.S. technology, intellectual property and know-how.”