TAMPA, Fla. — The Board of Directors of Moffitt Cancer Center (Moffitt) today accepted the resignation of its president and CEO, Dr. Alan List, and the center director, Thomas Sellers, for violations of conflict of interest rules through their work in China. Timothy J. Adams, institute board chairman, will assume overall operational responsibilities while a national CEO search is underway.
Moffitt initiated an internal review of team members’ collaborations with research institutions in China after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) warned all its grant recipients of foreign efforts to influence or compromise U.S. researchers. Moffitt found several compliance violations that also prompted separation of four additional researchers.
Moffitt’s review focused on its team members’ participation in China’s “Thousand Talents” Program, which recruits global researchers and academics. Moffitt has shared the preliminary findings of its ongoing review with the federal government and will continue to examine its internal procedures for the protection of its intellectual property.
There is no indication Moffitt research was compromised or patient care affected.
“At Moffitt, we pride ourselves not only on our life-saving research and world-class patient care, but also on transparency and integrity among all our employees. This was an unfortunate but necessary decision,” said Adams.
“Going forward, this will not damage the future of our research or the care of our patients. We will continue to be careful stewards of the public money entrusted to us for cancer research. Moffitt is proud to have 7,000 of the finest medical professionals in the world fighting every day to treat and cure cancer. That is what mattered yesterday, and that is what will matter tomorrow.”
The departures will not disrupt treatment to patients currently under Moffitt’s care.
The open exchange of ideas and Moffitt’s culture of innovative collaboration have made it a global leader in developing breakthrough research to save lives through the prevention, treatment and cure of cancer. Recognizing the war on cancer transcends borders, Moffitt more than a decade ago seized the opportunity to pair with foreign academics and researchers, a practice encouraged by the U.S. government. However, in recent years, the federal government has become concerned about foreign interests targeting U.S. universities and academic medical centers to duplicate technology and intellectual property.
“This great institution did its job: We listened to the warnings from NIH, conducted a proactive review, and took strong action when it was needed,” said founder and former Speaker of the House H. Lee Moffitt.
Moffitt also is thoroughly reviewing its 12-year partnership with China’s Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital for the training of oncology practitioners, including through international exchanges.
About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt is a Top 10 cancer hospital and has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report since 1999. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With nearly 7,000 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.4 billion.