Xifeng Wu, MD, PhD, Epidemiologist
❝ The NIH and the FBI are targeting ethnic Chinese scientists, including U.S. citizens, searching for a cancer cure. Here’s the first account of what happened to Xifeng Wu.
❝ In recent decades, cancer research has become increasingly globalized, with scientists around the world pooling data and ideas to jointly study a disease that kills almost 10 million people a year. International collaborations are an intrinsic part of the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s Moonshot program, the government’s $1 billion blitz to double the pace of treatment discoveries by 2022. One of the program’s tag lines: “Cancer knows no borders.”
❝ Except, it turns out, the borders around China. In January, Wu, an award-winning epidemiologist and naturalized American citizen, quietly stepped down as director of the Center for Public Health and Translational Genomics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center after a three-month investigation into her professional ties in China. Her resignation, and the departures in recent months of three other top Chinese American scientists from Houston-based MD Anderson, stem from a Trump administration drive to counter Chinese influence at U.S. research institutions. The aim is to stanch China’s well-documented and costly theft of U.S. innovation and know-how. The collateral effect, however, is to stymie basic science, the foundational research that underlies new medical treatments. Everything is commodified in the economic cold war with China, including the struggle to find a cure for cancer.
I confronted this crap for over twenty-five years. Nothing as sensational as cancer research; but, still, working for American firms that relied on Asian design improvements and production smarts you get the party line on intellectual “theft” forever. It ain’t theft if you’re willing to sign a contract handing over whatever technology concerned because you’re out to make a buck like every one of your competitors. No one twists your arm or holds your children hostage to sign a contract. “Here’s the terms! Want to do business or not?”
There’s always a quid pro quo in so-called “intellectual property theft” and it always comes down to the almighty dollar.
What we’re witnessing now is the inevitable resurgence of McCarthyism in all its racist stink. It’s always been part of populism American-style.