Memo on International Relationships and Foreign Influence on Research and Technology Development Activities - Sept. 29, 2021
DATE: September 29, 2021
RE: International relationships and foreign influence on research and technology development activities
Wayne State University has a global research mission and encourages international research collaborations. It is essential, however, for investigators to be transparent about their foreign relationships and activities. The United States federal government has conveyed serious increasing concerns regarding the influence by foreign entities over federally funded research.
As a result, foreign influence in federally sponsored research, including peer review, continues to be the subject of investigations conducted by federal agencies and universities across the country. These investigations generally relate to the exploitation of intellectual capital, technologies, research investigators and research programs at universities by foreign governments and external entities for economic and technology development purposes.
We have previously provided members of the WSU community with information, guidance and resources to address this issue at https://research.wayne.edu/fir and to help navigate global engagements, particularly during today’s shifting landscape.
Federal agencies have heightened their oversight and reviews of foreign engagements, occasionally with devastating consequences for investigators and the institutions with which they are affiliated.
Because scrutiny of issues relating to foreign influence on research has continued to escalate, it is imperative that the members of our campus community understand and implement the appropriate preventative measures.
Steps can and should be taken to minimize the risk of foreign influence safeguarding resources, enabling technologies and intellectual property.
Failure to do so may have serious and far-reaching consequences including the loss of federal funding for the individual investigator and the institution as a whole.
Key elements and safeguard steps include the following.
- Ensure that both real and perceived domestic and international conflicts of interest or commitment are fully disclosed on annual conflict of interest and commitment disclosures.
- We have expanded our foreign influence guidance (https://research.wayne.edu/fir) to facilitate the identification of activities that may place members of the WSU community at risk of violating federal laws and regulations and to assist in mitigating such risk.
- The required university financial conflict of interest disclosure platform also now includes a section to allow for disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment relative to foreign relationships.
- Ensure that the current and pending support section on federal grant applications includes both foreign and domestic financial resources.
- Ensure that any “foreign component” of any federally sponsored project is disclosed on proposals, progress reports, and final technical reports in accordance with the sponsor’s guidelines for disclosure.
- Ensure that all international faculty, staff & visiting scholars hosted as part of a research program or collaborative initiatives are coordinated with the Office of International Students and Scholars.
- Ensure compliance with export control laws and regulations in accordance with the guidance provided on the export control website. (https://research.wayne.edu/integrity/export-control
- Ensure disclosure of all inventions and related inventors, collaborators and funding sources to the Office of Technology Commercialization and compliance with the WSU Intellectual Property Policy (https://research.wayne.edu/techtransfer/doc/wsu_patent_policy.pdf).
Wayne State University remains committed to welcoming researchers, scholars, and students from around the world and cultivating international research collaborations – two essential elements of our mission.
At the same time, we must be cognizant of the challenges that may arise in this area and the responsibility that we all have to be sure that all aspects of this issue are addressed.
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or further clarity on any specific item that may arise in this area and we are glad to provide additional guidance.
- Ahmad Ezzeddine - Associate Vice President for Educational Outreach and International Programs ((313) 577-8968, email@example.com)
- Philip R. Cunningham, Associate Vice President for Research Integrity (313-577-9064, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Gail Ryan, Associate Vice President for Sponsored Program Administration (313-577-6595, email@example.com)
Stephen M. Lanier, Ph.D., Vice President for Research
Mark L. Kornbluh, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs