Thursday, January 26, 2023



The explicit goal of the work of Charles Lieber, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard has been to devise a biological interface, in which a nanoscale device could communicate with a living organism and he had succeeded in developing a bio-compatible transistor the size of a virus.

He and his colleagues used nanowires to create a transistor so small that it can be used to enter and probe cells without disrupting the intracellular machinery and could even be used to enable two-way communication with individual cells.

On January 28th, Lieber was arrested and charged for lying about work he did for a program run by the Chinese government that seeks to lure American talent to China.

Lieber was paid $50,000 a month and up to $158,000 in living expenses to cultivate young teachers and students, according to court documents. He also received more than $1.5 million to create a research lab at the Wuhan University of Technology in China.

Lieber has also received more than $15 million in grants from US Federal agencies since 2008 and he’s required to disclose any conflicts of interest and money he receives from foreign governments.

China has been rampantly stealing IP, stealing critical and sensitive data from us through the university system. Shouldn’t that raise the question of why the university system is being used to get this work done? And was it stealing if they technically paid for it?

The the timing of Lieber’s arrest and the locations of where this virus has showed up suggest a high statistical probability that Mr. Lieber’s creations may have escaped from a research lab in China, though it’s thought that some of its ancestors probably came from Fort Detrick but there’s a high probability that we’re dealing with nanotechnology.

But bioweapons that are specifically-engineered aren’t the only concern. Nanomaterials, which are used in haircare, clothing and other familiar products are so small, they can be inadvertently ingested into the human body, where they accumulate in the liver to affect the immune system.

For example, it’s known that metallic oxides (such as titanium dioxide, which is used in a lot of processed foods) convert over time into phosphates, leading not only to physical changes but to fundamental compositional (atomic) changes in the human body that can cause lung fibrosis and a number of other ill effects.

U.S. officials have repeatedly warned that China's ambitious Thousand Talents program could put a wide range of U.S. scientific interests at risk.

"The worry is that China might be eroding America's technology advantage — not just by support for research, but also by theft of scientific ideas and corporate espionage," as NPR's Joe Palca reported in 2018.

John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security and head of the Justice Department's China Initiative, said in a statement that the charges against Lieber "illustrate the serious and persistent threat of China's efforts to steal intellectual property and research from our nation's universities."

He added, "American universities, while maintaining the open and collaborative research and learning environment that has made them the best in the world, should take this threat seriously and continue to take actions to confront it, including ensuring transparency in their programs' funding sources and their professors' commitments, and having secure physical and internet security for their sensitive research."

The case against Lieber was one of three announced Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston that officials say illustrate the threat of Chinese economic espionage.

Yanqing Ye, 29, who is currently in China, is charged with one count each of "visa fraud, making false statements, acting as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy." She had been working at Boston University and is accused of lying about her position as a lieutenant in the Chinese military.

Zaosong Zheng, 30, was arrested last month at Boston's Logan International Airport and is charged with allegedly attempting to smuggle vials of biological materials and other research materials stolen from U.S labs. Zheng, who was a a Harvard-sponsored cancer researcher, has been indicted on that charge along with a count of making false statements.

Lieber earned his doctorate in chemistry from Stanford University in 1985. Before he joined Harvard in 1991, his academic career included stops at the California Institute of Technology and Columbia University.

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