Chinese scientists and US leadership in the life sciences

Recent actions by government agencies and universities with respect to Chinese scientists in the U.S. could threaten U.S. leadership in biomedical science

Go to the profile of Jeremy Levin
Aug 21, 2019
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We, the undersigned, are leaders in U.S. academic and industrial biomedical research and drug development. We are concerned that recent actions by government agencies and universities with respect to Chinese scientists in the U.S. could threaten U.S. leadership in biomedical science.

Recently, some scientists from China, or American-born of Chinese heritage, have been summarily dismissed from their university positions, creating a climate of fear and uncertainty in our biomedical communities.

Let us be clear: we must absolutely guard against foreign espionage and IP theft, and prosecute those who engage in it, whatever their origins. At the same time, actions that more broadly limit collaboration between Chinese and American scientists and companies would be deleterious to our national interests; so too would limitations on American residents of Chinese origin receiving government research funding or being employed by the NIH.

In military wars between national adversaries, leaders often vilify “the other.” Our “war” unifies an international community of medical researchers to fight a common adversary, disease: cancers, immune diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, infections, to name just a few. Vilifying or excluding any group as “the other” limits our ability to win this war.

The United States’ unique constitution as a nation of immigrants has been fundamental to our world leadership in biomedical research and drug development. Our nation most prolifically attracts the best, most diverse talent from the entire world. This has enriched our economy and society. As a case in point, our preliminary research indicates that, since 1999, over 400,000 US patents have been issued to inventors of Chinese descent, and approximately 28% of U.S. biomedical science publications in 2018 included an author of Chinese descent.

An atmosphere of intimidation will encourage many outstanding scientists of Chinese origin to leave the US or never to come. In addition, scientists from other countries who are working in the U.S. cannot fail to get the message that they may well be next.

We also note that the vast majority of the results of academic biomedical research are not secret; their publication and open exchange are the cornerstone of our success against our common enemy of human disease and suffering. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”

We support the opinions recently published by the editors of Nature, Nature Biotechnology and by former NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, and advocate for measured policies that will both protect U.S. intellectual property and continue to foster the diversity and collaboration that fuel our ability to advance science and cure disease. At a minimum, universities must effectively communicate and consistently apply their rules governing scientific collaborations and IP obligations, and they, as well as government agencies, must clearly justify their actions when they accuse scientists of malfeasance or seek to dismiss them from their positions.

Ronald Reagan said, “We lead the world, because unique among nations, we draw our people, our strength from every country and every corner of the world,” and, “If we ever close our door to new Americans, our leadership in the world will soon be lost.”

Nowhere are these thoughts more pertinent than in biomedical science. If we are to prevail in humanity’s common quest to conquer disease, our surest route is to include any person able to contribute, regardless of country of origin, religion, race, gender, or other identity. The U.S. biomedical community stands for the principles of diversity and unity embedded in the founding principles of our country, without which our leadership indeed will soon be lost.

Steven Holtzman, Ron Cohen, Jeremy M. Levin, John M. Maraganore & Signatories to the Statement, listed below. 

To add your signature to this letter please reach out via email by clicking here.

Affiliations

  • Decibel Therapeutics, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Steven Holtzman
  • Acorda Therapeutics, Ardsley, New York, USA
    • Ron Cohen
  • Ovid Therapeutics, New York, New York, USA
    • Jeremy M. Levin
  • Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • John M. Maraganore
  • Blueprint Medicines, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Jeff Albers
  • Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Joseph E. Aoun
  • Chicago Biomedical Consortium, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA
    • James E. Audia, PhD
  • AVEO Oncology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Michael P. Bailey
  • Atlas Venture, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Peter Barrett
  • MIT/Whitehead Institute/HHMI, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • David Bartel
  • BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Inc., Novato, California, USA
    • Jean-Jacques Bienamie
  • Cytokenetics, Inc., South San Francisco, California, USA
    • Robert I. Blum
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (retired), Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Joshua Boger, PhD
  • Alnylam, Magenta, Kaleido, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Michael W. Bonney
  • Atlas Venture, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Bruce Booth, Phil
  • Equillium, Inc., La Jolla, California, USA
    • Daniel M Bradbury
  • New York, New York, USA; Sanofi, SA (retired), Paris, France
    • Olivier Brandicourt, MD
  • Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Eugene Braunwald, MD
  • Morphic Therapeutics, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA
    • Gustav Christensen
  • Flexion Therapeutics, Burlington, Massachusetts, USA
    • Michael D. Clayman, MD
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Charles L. Cooney
  • Gerald Cox Rare Care Consulting, LLC, Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Gerald F. Cox, MD, PhD
  • CGIR, LLC, Savannah, Georgia, USA
    • Sally J. Curley, IRC
  • Xencor, Inc., Monrovia, California, USA
    • Bassil Dahiyat
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dept. of Cancer Biology, Houston, Texas, USA
    • Ronald A. DePinho, MD
  • 5AM Ventures, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • John Diekman
  • MaxCyte, Inc., Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA
    • Douglas Doerfler
  • Excision BioTherapeutics, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
    • Daniel Dornbusch
  • Aldeyra Therapeutics, Lexington, Massachusetts, USA
    • Richard H. Douglas, PhD
  • H Lundbeck A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark
    • Deborah Dunsire, MD
  • Novus Therapeutics, Inc., Irvine, California, USA
    • Gregory J. Flesher
  • Atlas Venture, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Jean-Francois Formela
  • Agios Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Kaye I. Foster-Cheek
  • Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
    • Cedric Francois
  • TEQLA Therapeutics Inc., Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Michael P. Franken
  • Blaze Bioscience Inc., Seattle, Washington, USA
    • Heather Franklin
  • enGage Biotech Consulting, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, USA
    • L. Patrick Gage, PhD
  • Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
    • Phyllis Gardner, MD
  • Orchard Therapeutics, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • James A. Geraghty
  • Evelo Biosciences, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Simba Gill
  • ARCH Venture Partners, Chicago, Illinois, USA
    • Steven Gillis
  • The Column Group, San Francisco, California, USA
    • David V. Goeddel
  • Revolution Medicines, Inc., Redwood City, California, USA
    • Mark Goldsmith, MD, PhD
  • Intarcia Therapeutics, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Kurt Graves
  • Gray Strategic Advisors, LLC, New York, New York, USA
    • Mary Ann Gray, PhD
  • Atlas Venture, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • David Grayzel
  • Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Barry Greene
  • Immunogen, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA
    • Richard J. Gregory, PhD
  • Carol Greve-Philips Consulting, LLC, Sharon, Massachusetts, USA
    • Carol Greve-Philips
  • Imbria Pharmaceuticals, San Diego, California, USA
    • David-Alexandre Gros, MD
  • Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA; Food & Drug Administration (2009-2015), Silver Spring Maryland, USA
    • Margaret A. Hamburg, MD
  • Science History Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
    • Michael Hammerschmidt
  • Gossamer Bio, San Diego, California, USA
    • Faheem Hasnain
  • Nkarta Therapeutics, Redwood City, California, USA
    • Paul J. Hastings
  • Redpin Therapeutics, New York, New York, USA
    • Elma S. Hawkins
  • Incyte, Wilmington, Delaware, USA
    • Hervé  Hoppenot, PhD
  • ProMIS Neurosciences, Toronto, Onterio, Canada
    • Johanne Kaplan, PhD
  • Virion Biotherapeutics, London, United Kingdom
    • Vanessa King, PhD
  • RA Capital Management, LLC, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Peter Kolchinsky
  • Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Eric S. Lander
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Robert Langer
  • LaVoieHealthScience, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Donna L. LaVoie
  • Kaleido Biosciences, Inc., Lexington, Massachusetts, USA
    • Alison Lawton
  • Decibel Therapeutics, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • John J. Lee
  • Deerfield Management, New York, New York, USA
    • Jonathan S. Leff
  • GlaxoSmithKline, Collegeville, Pennsylvania, USA
    • John Lepore, MD
  • Bluebird Bio, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Nick Leschly
  • Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Judy Lieberman
  • Erasca, San Diego, California, USA
    • Johnathan Lim
  • Broad Institute/HHMI/Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • David R. Liu
  • MIT/Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Harvey Lodish
  • Assembly Biosciences, Carmel, Indiana, USA
    • Uri Lopatin, MD
  • Global Blood Therapeutics, South San Francisco, California, USA
    • Ted W. Love, MD
  • Scholar Rock, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Nagesh K. Mahanthappa, PhD, MBA
  • Akili Interactive, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • W. Eddie Martucci, PhD
  • Imara, Inc, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • James McArthur, PhD
  • Pear Therapeutics, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Corey M. McCann, MD, PhD
  • CytomX Therapeutics Inc., South San Francisco, USA
    • Sean McCarthy, DPhil
  • Genzyme Corporation, Boston, Massachusetts, USA (retired)
    • David McLachlan
  • HHMI/University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
    • Craig Mello
  • Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc., San Diego, California, USA
    • Steven J. Mento, PhD
  • Arbutus Biopharma and CytomX Therapeutics, San Francisco, California, USA
    • James Meyers
  • Third Rock Ventures, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Rachel Meyers
  • REGENXBIO Inc., Rockville, Maryland, USA
    • Ken Mills
  • Cognition Therapeutics, Inc., Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, USA
    • Kenneth I. Moch
  • CODA Biotherapeutics, South San Francisco, California, USA
    • Michael Narachi
  • Polaris Partners, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Amir Nashat
  • Sutro Biopharma, Inc., South San Francisco, California, USA
    • William J. Newell
  • EcoR1 Capital, LLC, San Francisco, California, USA
    • Oleg Nodelman
  • Vedanta Biosciences Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Bernat Olle, PhD
  • BioVentures Investors, Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA
    • John E. Osborn
  • Life Science Cares, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Rob Perez
  • OncoPep, Inc., North Andover, Massachusetts, USA
    • Doris Peterkin
  • Accendo, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Alice Lin Pomponio
  • Intercept Pharma, New York, New York, USA
    • Mark Pruzanski, MD
  • Ten Bridge Communications, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Dan Quinn
  • Ardelyx, Inc., Fremont, California, USA
    • Michael G. Raab
  • Noventia Pharma, Forli, Italy
    • Massimo Radaelli
  • Ovid Therapeutics, New York, New York, USA
    • Amit Rakhit, MD, MBA
  • Encoded Therapeutics, South San Francisco, California, USA
    • Kartik Ramamoorthi, PhD
  • Neurocrine Biosciences Inc., Fate Therapeutics, Daré Biosciences, San Diego, California, USA
    • William Rastetter
  • Atlas Venture, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Jason P. Rhodes
  • NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., South San Francisco, California, USA
    • William J. Rieflin
  • Flagship Pioneering, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Michael Rosenblatt, MD
  • Synergenics, LLC, San Francisco, California, USA
    • William J. Rutter
  • Venrock, Palo Alto, California, USA
    • Camille Samuels
  • Denali Therapeutics and Vir Biotechnology, San Francisco, California, USA
    • Vicki L. Sato, PhD
  • Allergan, New York, New York, USA
    • Brent Saunders
  • Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • David Scadden
  • Vir Biotechnology, San Francisco, California, USA
    • George Scangos, PhD
  • Geron Corporation, Menlo Park, California, USA
    • John A. Scarlett, MD
  • Scripps Research, Jupiter, Florida, and La Jolla, California, USA
    • Paul Schimmel
  • Broad Institute/Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Stuart L. Schreiber, PhD
  • Lyndra Therapeutics, Watertown, Massachusetts, USA
    • Amy Schulman
  • Seres Therapeutics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Eric Shaff
  • Koch Institute for Cancer Research, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Phillip A. Sharp
  • Lewis Thomas Laboratory, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey USA
    • Thomas Shenk
  • Syros Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Nancy Simonian
  • Deerfield Management, New York, New York, USA
    • William Slattery
  • E-Scape Bio, Inc., San Francisco, California, USA
    • Julie A. Smith
  • OncoResponse, Inc., Seattle, Washington, USA
    • Clifford Stocks
  • ETH Zurich, Zurch, Switzerland
    • Markus Stoffel, MD
  • Decibel Therapeutics, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Michael Su, PhD
  • EpiBone, Inc, New York, New York, USA
    • Nina Tandon
  • Healthcare, Life Sciences and Financial Services, Lincoln, Massachusetts, USA
    • Alison Taunton-Rigby, PhD, OBE
  • TRACON Pharmaceuticals, San Diego, California, USA
    • Charles Theuer, MD, PhD
  • Kallyope, New York, New York, USA
    • Nancy A. Thornberry
  • Alzheon, Framingham, Massachusetts, USA
    • Martin Tolar, MD PhD
  • Scripps Research, San Diego, California, USA
    • Eric Topol, MD
  • Decibel Therapeutics, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Anna Trask
  • Quench Bio, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Samantha Truex
  • The Rockefeller University, New York, New York, USA
    • Thomas Tuschl
  • Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York, USA
    • Harold E. Varmus
  • Flatiron Health, New York, New York, USA
    • Michael J. Vasconcelles, MD
  • Biogen, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Michel Vounatsos
  • Horizon Therapeutics, Dublin, Ireland
    • Timothy P. Walbert
  • ChEM-H Institute, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
    • Christopher T. Walsh
  • Longwood Fund, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • Christoph Westphal, MD, PhD
  • Crinetics Pharmaceuticals, San Diego, California, USA
    • Wendell Wierenga, PhD
  • Codiak BioSciences, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Douglas E. Williams, PhD
  • Walking Fish Therapeutics, San Francisco, California, USA
    • Lewis T. Williams
  • Theravance Biopharma, Inc., South San Francisco, California, USA
    • Rick E. Winningham
  • Zai Lab/Quan Capital, Shanghai, China
    • Peter Wirth
  • NGM Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., San Francisco, California, USA
    • David J. Woodhouse, PhD
  • Cerus Corporation, Concord, California, USA
    • Kleanthis G. Xanthopoulos, PhD
  • HHMI, RNA Therapeutics Institute at UMass Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
    • Phillip D. Zamore, PhD
  • Johns Hopkins University (emeritus), Baltimore, Maryland, USA; National Institutes of Health; (2002-2008), Bethesda, Maryland, USA; Sanofi (former), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA and Paris, France
    • Elias Zerhouni
  • HHMI/Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard/McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
    • Feng Zhang    

Consortia

The Signatories to the Statement

Jeff Albers, Joseph E. Aoun, James E. Audia, Michael P. Bailey, Peter Barrett, David Bartel, Jean-Jacques   Bienamie, Robert I. Blum, Joshua Boger, Michael W. Bonney, Bruce Booth, Daniel M. Bradbury, Olivier Brandicourt, Eugene Braunwald, Gustav Christensen, Michael D. Clayman, Charles L. Cooney, Gerald F. Cox, Sally J. Curley, Bassil Dahiyat, Ronald A. DePinho, John Diekman, Douglas Doerfler, Daniel Dornbusch, Richard H. Douglas, Deborah Dunsire, Gregory J. Flesher, Jean-Francois Formela, Kaye Foster-Cheek, Cedric Francois, Michael P. Franken, Heather Franklin, L. Patrick Gage, Phyllis Gardner, James A. Geraghty, Simba Gill, Steven Gillis, David V. Goeddel, Mark Goldsmith, Kurt Graves, Mary Ann Gray, David Grayzel, Barry Greene, Richard J. Gregory, Carol A. Greve-Philips, David-Alexandre Gros, Margaret A. Hamburg, Michael Hammerschmidt, Faheem Hasnain, Paul J. Hastings, Elma S. Hawkins, Hervé Hoppenot, Johanne Kaplan, Vanessa King, Peter Kolchinsky, Eric S. Lander, Robert Langer, Donna L. LaVoie, Alison Lawton, John J. Lee, Jonathan S. Leff, John Lepore, Nick Leschly, Judy Lieberman, Johnathan Lim, David R. Liu, Harvey Lodish, Uri Lopatin, Ted W. Love, Nagesh K. Mahanthappa, W. Eddie Martucci, James McArthur, Corey M. McCann, Sean McCarthy, David McLachlan, Craig Mello, Steven J. Mento, James Meyers, Rachel Meyers, Ken Mills, Kenneth I. Moch, Michael Narachi, Amir Nashat, William J. Newell, Oleg Nodelman, Bernat Olle, John E. Osborn, Rob Perez, Doris Peterkin, Alice Pompino, Mark Pruzanski, Dan Quinn, Michael G. Raab, Massimo Radaelli, Amit Rakhit, Kartik Ramamoorthi, William Rastetter, Jason P. Rhodes, William J. Rieflin, Michael Rosenblatt, William J. Rutter, Camille Samuels, Vicki L. Sato, Brent Saunders, David Scadden, George Scangos, John A. Scarlett, Paul Schimmel, Stuart L. Schreiber, Amy Schulman, Eric Shaff, Phillip A. Sharp, Thomas Shenk, Nancy Simonian, William Slattery, Julie A. Smith, Clifford Stocks, Markus Stoffel, Michael Su, Nina Tandon, Alison Taunton-Rigby, Charles Theuer, Nancy A. Thornberry, Martin Tolar, Eric Topol Anna Trask, Samantha Truex, Thomas Tuschl, Harold           E. Varmus, Michael J. Vasconcelles, Michel Vounatsos, Timothy P.  Walbert, Christopher T. Walsh, Christoph Westphal, Wendell Wierenga, Douglas E. Williams, Lewis T. Williams, Rick E. Winningham, Peter Wirth, David J. Woodhouse, Kleanthis G. Xanthopoulos, Phillip D. Zamore, Elias Zerhouni, Feng Zhang

Competing interests

Steve Holtzman is president, CEO and board member of Decibel Therapeutics, and on the board of Molecular Partners. Ron Cohen is president and CEO of Acorda Therapeutics and a board member of VBL Therapeutics and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. Jeremy Levin is an officer at Ovid Therapeutics and on the board of Lundbeck A/S, Biocon Limited and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. John Maraganore is CEO and board member of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and on the board of Agios Pharmaceuticals and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization. The appended signatures do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of any agency, organization, employer or company with which the signatories are affiliated.

Go to the profile of Jeremy Levin

Jeremy Levin

CEO, Ovid Therapeutics

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