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Academic Work With China Chilled by Federal Concerns

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Dr. Zigang Dong

Dr. Zigang Dong, a well-known cancer researcher, abruptly left the University of Minnesota last last year amid a federal investigation into possible failure to disclose foreign support for his work in grant applications.

Federal concerns that China is trying to steal cutting-edge science from U.S. campuses are forcing universities to take a hard look at ties with Chinese companies.

"We've entered this tricky area that has some xenophobia to it," said University of Minnesota Vice President for Research Chris Cramer. "Chinese researchers feel they are under a cloud of suspicion just because they are Chinese."

More than 230 Chinese faculty and staff work at the university. Faculty published 845 scientific papers with colleagues at Chinese universities in 2018 alone. That number rose steadily even as a standoff over trade and other issues deepened between the United States and China.

Joseph Konstan, associate dean for research of the College of Science and Engineering, said the scrutiny is having a chilling effect on global collaborations, New visa restrictions for some Chinese students are also driving down graduate applications from China.

"If it harms U.S. science to prevent some U.S. science from being stolen, at the end of the day are we better or worse off?" Konstan said.

Officials also say the university is taking steps to better safeguard its intellectual property.

From Austin Daily Herald
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