E&C Republican Leaders Push NIH for Stronger Enforcement of Grants Policies and Compliance Information Regarding EcoHealth Alliance

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA) sent a letter to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Acting Director Lawrence A. Tabak requesting stronger enforcement efforts and information surrounding EcoHealth Alliance’s compliance with NIH’s grant policy and regulations.

The members point to three main issues in urging the NIH to provide more information and be transparent:

  • EcoHealth withheld data from an NIH database on a USAID-funded project similar to NIH-funded research that raises questions of whether EcoHealth double-billed the USAID and the NIH for the same research;

  • EcoHealth currently cannot substantiate the risky research using humanized mice at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China because EcoHealth cannot produce the laboratory notebooks and electronic files related to this experiment; and

  • EcoHealth received private donations that may have been unreported to NIH. These new details raise the probabilities that EcoHealth may have committed more serious violations of its NIH grant terms.

LETTER EXCERPT: “On January 6, 2022, the NIH sent two letters to EcoHealth related to its failure to comply with terms agreed upon for its NIH grants. While we appreciate the NIH’s current enforcement efforts to obtain EcoHealth’s compliance, new information from recently disclosed information included in the recent NIH letters raises troubling concerns about EcoHealth’s conduct upon which the NIH is either overlooking or taking insufficient action. Those concerns include withheld data and possible double billing, missing laboratory notebooks and electronic files related to humanized mice research at the Wuhan lab, and EcoHealth’s private donations that may not have been reported to NIH. These concerns raise the prospect of possible fraud that require the NIH’s heightened attention.”

The Leaders ask the NIH to answer the following question by March 24, 2022:

  • Will NIH investigate whether EcoHealth’s research funded by NIH was also funded by USAID? If not, why not?

  • Please provide copies of all NIH correspondence to and from EcoHealth Alliance since the July 8, 2020, grant suspension.

  • Is NIH seeking a copy of the Year 6 progress report for the EcoHealth grant (covering the 2019 -2020 timeframe)? If not, why not? If so, please provide.

  • Please describe the NIAID’s understanding of the DARPA proposal referenced in EcoHealth’s Year Four progress report.

  • Please provide all emails, correspondence, or any documents related to the EcoHealth’s discussions with the NIAID about research proposals or ideas with DARPA.

  • We are troubled that research sponsored by NIH must first be reviewed and approved by an institution in China before NIH receives the data. Is this process a special arrangement NIH authorized for EcoHealth? When did NIH become aware that a foreign institution was intervening in the contractual relationship between NIH and an NIH grant recipient?

  • Will NIH investigate how EcoHealth was able to report the humanized mice experiment results in the Year 4 and Year 5 progress reports since (1) EcoHealth admitted it does not have copies of the laboratory notebooks and electronic files; and (2) EcoHealth did not create or retain these records? If not, why not?

  • Did EcoHealth provide the WIV with access to the NIH eraCommons system for grantees?

  • How did NIH assess the conflicts of interest in EcoHealth’s research involving its anonymous financial source and the private financial sources referenced on page two of this letter?

  • Did EcoHealth disclose the private donations to NIH? If not, what actions will NIH take to obtain this reporting? If yes, how did NIH assess the conflicts of interest?

CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Dr. Tabak.

CLICK HERE to read more about the investigation into the origins of COVID-19.