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International Research and Engagement

Find guidance, updates and relevant links for the UC San Diego community regarding international research and engagements.

UC San Diego believes that scientific research and academic scholarship work best with open collaboration. We are committed to having an open, welcoming campus; respecting the rights of faculty; and abiding by our Principles of Community. As a global research university, we proudly have hundreds of faculty and educators from around the world teaching in our classrooms.

At the same time, we must protect research integrity; address the federal government's increasing concerns about foreign entities unduly influencing U.S. research; and adhere to the guidelines and policies the government puts in place.

It is the professional responsibility of every researcher at UC San Diego to completely and accurately disclose external financial interests and support, affiliations, activities and relationships with any foreign entities.

Best Practices

  • Conflict of Commitment (COC): The University of California requires that faculty submit an annual COC report indicating whether or not they have engaged in outside activities during the fiscal year. Disclosure forms are required even if faculty members have nothing to disclose. Deans are responsible for ensuring that faculty members submit an annual disclosure and that the disclosures are accurate. A new UC-wide software system called UC OATS is now being used for annual COC disclosures. Read more on the Academic Affairs UC OATS website
  • Conflict of Interest (COI) policies require all university employees who are conducting research or other research-related activities to disclose certain financial interests, whether domestic or foreign. Financial interests include anything of monetary value held by the employee, a spouse or registered domestic partner, and dependent children. Examples include income or payments for salaries; consulting or honorariums; holding a position such as founder, partner, employee or board member; and having ownership interests such as stocks, bonds or stock options. New financial interests should be disclosed within 30 days of their acquisition. Read more about required COI disclosures here.
  • Applicants for federal grants must list all “other support” prior to award as required by the sponsoring agency and are required to identify any changes in “other support” in each annual progress report. For NIH awards, the NIH Grants Policy Statement defines “other support” as all financial resources — whether federal or non-federal, commercial or institutional — in direct support of an individual’s research. This covers research contracts and grants, cooperative agreements and organizational awards, including any from foreign governments or entities. Contact the Office of Contract and Grant Administration for more information about the “other support” requirements of your sponsor.

    Read more about “other support” requirements on the OCGA website.

It is important to remember that any external support or engagement that would be acknowledged in public presentations or publications is something that should also disclosed in grant applications, annual reports and closeout summaries and in university-related COI and COC disclosure forms (as required).

Contacts

Contact list
Research Compliance and Integrity (RCI)

Angela McMahill

Academic Senate and Council on Research

Steven Constable

Victor Ferreira

Gert Cauwensberghs

Conflict of Interest (COI)

Jennifer J. Ford

Cybersecurity

Michael Corn

Export Control

Michael Miller

Government Research Relations (GRR)

Angela Diaz

Kathleen Ritzman

Christine Castillo

Graduate Division

April Bjornsen

James Antony

Health Sciences Sponsored Project Pre-Award Office (HSSPPO)

Erika Wilson

Office of Contract and Grant Administration (OCGA)

Lisa Meredith

Office of Contract and Grant Administration (OCGA) Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO)


Frank Truong

Office of Innovation and Commercialization (OIC)

Dolores Palacios

Office of International Affairs (OIA)

Chimchambo Uk

 

Office of Postdoctoral and Research Scholar Affairs (OPRS)

Jennifer (Oh) Bourque

Federal Guidance

Department of Commerce

Department of Defense (DOD)

Department of Energy (DOE)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

National Defense Authorization Act

  • August 2018: Sec.1286 states that “The Secretary of Defense shall, in consultation with other appropriate government organizations, establish an initiative to work with academic institutions who perform defense research and engineering activities . . . to limit undue influence, including through foreign talent programs, by countries to exploit United States.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)

  • This Memo discussing the issue of foreign influences on research and describes steps OSTP is taking to address these threats.

Regulations, Policies and Procedures

Foreign Government-Sponsored Talent Recruitment Programs

Foreign government-sponsored talent recruitment programs, typically referred to as “foreign talent programs,” include any foreign government-run or -funded programs that target individuals including but not limited to scientists, engineers, academics, researchers and entrepreneurs of all nationalities working or educated in the U.S. in an attempt to acquire U.S.-funded research and/or technology in exchange for financial and other types of support. There is a heightened concern that certain foreign governments may seek to influence U.S. research through recruitment of U.S. researchers which includes providing appointments and resources at foreign universities.

Concerns About Foreign Government-Sponsored Talent Programs

Foreign talent programs often create a one-way transfer of technology and expertise. This July 16, 2020 FBI Public Service Announcement summarizes the government’s concerns related to foreign talent programs. Such programs often seek to obtain proprietary technology or software, unpublished data and methods, and intellectual property from abroad. 

By agreeing to participate in a program, researchers may be subject to the laws of the foreign country, which may prohibit the researchers from advancing their research with their U.S. employer or funding agency without special authorization from the foreign government, undermining reciprocity of research.  

Ways to Recognize Foreign Talent Programs

Foreign talent programs have varying names depending on the country initiating the program. Features of foreign talent programs may include1:

  • Compensation in exchange for knowledge, expertise or other intellectual asset transfer to the foreign state. The compensation can take several forms such as cash, research facilities, other in-kind support, honorific titles, career advancement opportunities, promised future compensation, or other types of remuneration or consideration.
  • The foreign talent program’s active engagement in attracting the targeted individual to join the foreign talent program and transfer their knowledge and expertise to the foreign state. Recruitment may or may not include an invitation to attend or present work at an international conference.
  • Incentives to physically relocate to the foreign state. Of particular concern are some foreign talent programs that allow for continued employment at U.S. institutions and/or receipt of U.S. federal research funds while receiving compensation from the foreign talent program at the same time. 

Disclosure

While participation in a foreign government-sponsored talent program is not in itself prohibited, provisions in such programs may conflict with the federal agencies and/or the university’s policies, especially if the individual does not appropriately disclose the foreign talent program affiliation. Disclosing foreign relationships and activities protects the interests of everyone involved, (e.g., the individual researcher, their international collaborators, UC San Diego and the U.S. government). Disclosures may need to occur for Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment, as well as in the researcher’s Other Support and Biosketch.

Resources

The Office of Research Affairs International Research and Engagement page includes the best practices, contacts at UC San Diego, and links to guidance, regulations, policies, and procedures.  The UC Office of the President also has a comprehensive resource on Foreign Influence with more background information and links to the relevant UC system policies.  There may be additional guidance in the future as foreign talent programs evolve. 

For additional information or assistance, please contact the Research Compliance and Integrity Office at rci@ucsd.edu or (858) 822-4939.

 

1 Information from the U.S. Department of Energy Order 486.1

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Other Resources

The UC Office of the President has a comprehensive resource on foreign influence with more background information and links to the relevant UC system policies. There may be additional guidance in the future as foreign talent programs evolve. 

If you have questions about the disclosure requirements of a specific agency, please read Foreign Involvement Disclosure Requirements by Agency at Every Stage of the Research Lifecycle

The Council on Government Relations issued NIH Other Support Guidance that provides insight into the NIH Other Support requirements. 

For additional information or assistance, please contact the Research Compliance and Integrity Office at rci@ucsd.edu or (858) 822-4939.

References

Department of Energy Directive O 486.1A, Foreign Government Sponsored or Affiliated Activities

Federal Bureau of Investigation Public Service Announcement


PowerPoint presentation (PDF) and one-sheet handouts from May 2019 international research town halls.

For additional information, please contact the Research Compliance and Integrity Office at (858) 822-4939, rci@ucsd.edu.