More information has come to light on the Moffit Cancer Center investigation, where researchers failed to disclose payments from China. TrialSite News reported recently that Dr. Alan List had to leave the preeminent institution due to some form of conflict of interest associated with Chinese interests. TrialSite News noted that China’s “Thousand Talents Program” had penetrated the Moffitt Cancer Center. Now a new report further substantiates the findings.
The Ying and the Yang
A world view has it that the universe is governed by a sort of cosmic duality, where complimenting yet oppositional forces or principles interchange, interact and interplay—and clash—in a dynamic and unfolding trajectory.
And this in some ways appears to be an underlying driver with Dr. List and Dr. Sheng Wei as truly great things came from the collaboration, reported Moffit Cancer Center’s news not that long ago.
Although they came from different worlds, they just “clicked.” The brilliant, dynamic and synergistic duo teamed up and produced a novel therapy to treat myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS—a group of diseases that impact the bone marrow and blood). Few can pull off such a feat. The positive consequences were palpable and celebrated—the research center’s work picked up the attention of one of the world’s leading oncology-focused biopharma companies, Celgene, which proceeded to ink a collaboration including licensing deal or what was termed “a very extraordinary alliance.”
But what were the oppositional forces underlying this relationship? Based on unfolding information from this most recent report, it was Dr. Wei’s affection and affinity for, and synergies with Dr. List. Were they organic and “natural” or were they the result of a government policy—a directive—or even a mandate and march of a national economic development imperative—facilitated by the “Thousand Talents Program” initiated by the Chinese government to improve that nation’s competitive positioning on the global stage. Life sciences and drug development lies at the epicenter of such a clash. And was Dr. List a passive recipient (Ying) or proactive agent (Yang)?
The Transition from one Interval to Another
This relationship produced incredible synergies and consequent scientific fame, economic benefit and unlimited potential—because, despite the active and dynamic collaborative energies required for all of this to occur, it was the open and receptive—the passive interval that would inevitably lead to the clash (exposure of blatant policy violation) and inevitable consequence (loss of a job, tarnished record, etc.).
The passive Ying transcended to an active Yang as individuals took proactive steps to travel abroad and, with the help of Dr. Wei, interface in the business of engagement (e.g. setting up bank accounts, receiving payments, networking or what some call “Plugging-in-and-Playing”); although the actors in this real-world drama probably didn’t understand the implications of the unfolding interchanges, interactions, and frankly what should have been recognized as uncomfortably novel interfaces.
The staff didn’t disclose their activities despite many warnings about just such type of engagement. Perhaps the great achievements of the Ying made individuals’ blind to actions representing the Yang. After all, actual great things had occurred and why not go establish networks abroad and make even more history? No one can escape the forces of the Ying and the Yang. Hence, awareness of one’s times, one’s place, and one’s position is of vital importance for the prominent and rising visible professional in important forums receiving global attention—such as clinical research.
Be aware of the times that you live in, and use a grounded, intellectual, and practical common sense as your guide. One’s gut is often more intelligent than their brain. In a context of growing nationalistic urges and impulses, threatened or real trade wars, fear of espionage in vital industries, such as life sciences and the social economic and political consequences that play out as a consequence—make sure your Ying and Yang work for you in a way that allows you to keep doing the work you love to do.