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Members of the Texas A&M research community:

Texas A&M University supports academic freedom and the ability of researchers and scholars to communicate, exchange ideas and collaborate with the brightest minds in the world to advance knowledge and the application of that knowledge to benefit the nation and the world. Texas A&M has a long history of supporting cooperation and collaboration with global partners and welcomes students, faculty and researchers from all over the world. 
 
There have been growing concerns expressed by federal agencies that support research, federal intelligence and security agencies, Congress and the administration about systematic programs by some foreign governments to unduly influence and capitalize on U.S. taxpayer funded research to obtain a competitive advantage in critical areas of research and innovation. We want to ensure these matters are brought to your attention as the federal agencies work to update regulations and policies to support protection of critical technologies, controlled information and intellectual property, and to limit undue influence, including through foreign talent programs by countries seeking to exploit U.S. technology.
 
NIH has expressed specific concerns about:

  • Diversion of intellectual property in grant applications or produced by NIH supported biomedical research to other entities, including other countries;
  • Sharing of confidential information on grant applications by NIH peer reviewers with others, including foreign entities, or otherwise attempting to influence funding decisions; and
  • Failure by some researchers working at NIH-funded institutions in the U.S. to disclose substantial resources from other organizations, including foreign governments, which threatens to distort decisions about the appropriate use of NIH funds. 

NIH has reminded the research community that it is required to disclose all forms of support and financial interests via other and pending support in proposals and significant financial disclosure processes. Focus is on improved compliance with respect to mandatory reporting of all sources of research support, financial interests and relevant affiliations, as well as steps to reduce risk to intellectual property security.
 
NSF shares the same serious concerns with respect to NSF supported basic and applied research. NSF expects principal investigators and senior personnel to list any activity that provides funding for their work and/or a commitment of time by the individual in the same manner as listed above for NIH.
 
Given these heightened sensitivities: 
 
Be Transparent  

  • Be thorough and complete in disclosures to sponsors. Check your sponsor’s current disclosure requirements carefully, including disclosure requirements related to foreign travel and collaborations involving foreign sites. If in doubt, disclose to the sponsor.  
  • Be thorough and complete in disclosures to the University. If in doubt disclose.

Comply with Export Controls 

  • Export control laws and regulations are complex and subject to frequent change. Individuals who are traveling internationally and attending conferences; participating in international collaborations; using proprietary information; working with international staff or students; hosting international visitors; shipping or carrying items or materials internationally; or engaging in international transactions must comply with export control requirements. 

Follow University Processes When Hosting Visiting Scholars

  • Be sure that individuals are properly vetted, and that their access to space and systems is appropriate for the proposed work. 

Disclose Intellectual Property and Take Steps to Protect Intellectual Property, Data and Materials

  • Depending on the nature of the research, formal agreements may be necessary when sharing materials or data with other institutions, foreign or otherwise. Examples of such agreements include material transfer agreements (MTA), data use agreements (DUA) and nondisclosure agreements (NDA) to govern use of those materials, data or information. Having an agreement in place also affords the University the ability to complete all required internal controls and checks. For guidance, contact Texas A&M’s Office of Research Administration at negotiations@tamu.edu
  • Also see, http://rules-saps.tamu.edu/PDFs/15.99.03.M1.03.pdf

Maintain Confidentiality in the Peer Review Process

  • When serving on NIH, NSF or other federal agency scientific peer review panels, note and comply with all requirements to maintain the confidentiality of the information in research grant applications. Never share information gained through peer review processes—whether reviewing grant applications or publications. This information is confidential.

We want to emphasize our commitment to our existing and future international collaborations and research. Texas A&M supports academic freedom and is committed to providing a safe and non-discriminatory learning, living and working environment for all members of the University community.