Moffitt Cancer Center is naming John Cleveland its new Center Director and Executive Vice President after a series of abrupt resignations at the center last year.
Cleveland has served as Interim Center Director since the controversy. Those resignations were triggered by several individuals’ involvement in a controversial Chinese initiative aimed at partnering with American researchers.
One arrangement saw a Moffitt staff member being paid as a full-time employee despite residing in China. The ordeal prompted Moffitt to return $1.1 million in state dollars that went toward salary and staff expenses at the center.
Some of those staff members left the center, as did Moffitt’s CEO Alan List and Vice President Thomas Sellers.
Now, the center is promoting Cleveland to his new roles. Cleveland has worked at Moffitt since 2014, joining as an associate center director of Basic Science.
“Moffitt is built on a strong tradition of research excellence, which fuels our quest to find a cure for cancer,” said Timothy Adams, chair of Moffitt’s Institute Board of Directors.
“John Cleveland has a proven track record and will no doubt strengthen our innovative discoveries to continually improve the standard of care for our cancer patients.”
Cleveland also has experience working with the National Cancer Institute, The Scripps Research Institute and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
He will have a central role in attempting to steer the center through recovery from the storm of the last few months.
No charges have yet been filed in relation to the scandal. And Moffitt has already made some reform efforts. In addition to returning that state money, the center has said it would beef up efforts to review the backgrounds of employees.
The center’s involvement with China’s Thousand Talents Program has also raised questions as to whether China improperly capitalized on research data developed at Moffitt.
China’s role in the world’s health system ecosystem has been under increased scrutiny since the scandal due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
And in response to concerns about China’s theft of research and other intellectual property, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton has even floated a ban on allowing Chinese students to study science at U.S. universities.