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Misconduct

Charles Lieber indicted on false statement charges

Federal grand jury indicts Harvard nanoscientist for lying about his participation in China’s Thousand Talents Program

by Bethany Halford
June 11, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 23

 

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Credit: Katherine Taylor/Reuters/Newscom
Charles Lieber leaving the federal courthouse in Boston after he was release on bail in January.

Charles M. Lieber, an expert in nanoscience and former chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 9. The grand jury formally charged Lieber with two counts of making false statements about his association with China’s Thousand Talents program. He will appear before a Boston federal court to answer the charges at a later date, according to a press release from the US Department of Justice.

Lieber was first arrested for alleged fraud on Jan. 28. He has been out on $1 million bail since Jan. 30. He is currently on leave from Harvard.

US federal authorities allege that unbeknownst to Harvard, Lieber accepted a position at Wuhan University of Technology in 2011 and joined the Thousand Talents program from 2012 to 2015. Lieber and his research group have received more than $15 million in research grants from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DOD), agencies that require their grantees to disclose all sources of research funding, potential financial conflicts of interest, and foreign collaborations.

The indictment claims that Lieber told investigators from the DOD that he was never asked to participate in the Thousand Talents Program. It also says that Lieber misled Harvard, causing the university to falsely claim to the NIH that he had never participated in the Chinese program.

“The government has this wrong. Professor Lieber has dedicated his life to science and to his students,” Lieber’s attorneys Marc Mukasey and Torrey Young say in a statement. “When justice is done, Charlie’s good name will be restored and the scientific community again will be able to benefit from his intellect and passion.”

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