International Research Collaborations
Guidelines for International Research Collaborations

Message from Office of Vice President for Research  

Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has a long history of successful collaboration with foreign research organizations and supports and encourages international research, collaboration, and scholarship, which contribute to the mission of the University.

In recent months, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other U.S. federal agencies (NSF, DOD, and DOE) that support university research have demonstrated concern over foreign influence and have issued guidance to universities to ensure transparency on financial support received from all foreign entities.

The first line of defense is full and accurate reporting of all foreign relationships by U.S. university researchers to their institution. This involves mandatory full disclosure of other financial support when requested in proposal submission, including any financial support received by the investigator from a foreign entity outside the U.S. This disclosure includes support/funding received through contracts and grants through FAU or consultant, visiting scholar, lecturer or similar non-FAU appointment. For faculty on nine-month appointments, this requirement includes applicable funds received from a non-FAU foreign entity for activities over the summer months.

An issue of special concern is participation by U.S. universities in foreign talent programs, such as China's Thousand Talents Program, which the Pentagon has identified as an effort "to facilitate the legal and illicit transfer of U.S. technology, intellectual property and know-how" to China.

The Division of Research is establishing a committee to focus on foreign influence/threats, review current policies and procedures to ensure compliance and develop an implementation plan for FAU. Members of this committee will represent different interest groups across the University such as Provost's office, OIT, HR and faculty researchers. The DOR has created this webpage to provide pertinent information and the federal agencies' notices. DOR will also be scheduling Town Hall meetings to further distribute information and guidance related to this essential topic.

All federal agencies are taking this issue very seriously. The best advice at this point is to be sure to disclose any and all activities that involve a foreign entity. Thank you for giving your full attention to the critically important issue of preventing foreign exploitation of U.S. research discoveries. Stay tuned for additional resources and information.

Importance of Increased Vigilance

  • Legal term for theft of IP and U.S. research by foreign countries is now "Technology exfiltration."
  • China's "Thousand Talents Plan" (TTP) is purportedly a program designed to recruit Chinese scientists back to China but in reality is designed to steal American research.
  • TTP award is an award from the Chinese government; if a U.S. scientist accepts that award, he/she is working for two governments, which will lead to prosecution by the Department of Justice.
  • Peer review by foreign researchers can result in theft of U.S. technology.

Best Practices

  • Complete transparency of all foreign research relationships
  • Complete disclosure of all sources of support for research undertaken with a foreign partner
  • Complete disclosure of all sources of compensation for research work carried out in partnership with a foreign institution, including that which is undertaken during a period not covered by the faculty member's employment contract at FAU (e.g., summer employment at a foreign university)
  • Complete disclosure by faculty researchers of all foreign consulting and other outside business activities
  • Review of all active awards and pending proposals by PIs to ensure compliance
  • Prompt disclosure of new intellectual property developed at FAU to the Office of Technology Development

Where to get help: Email:    Phone: 561-297-0777


How can a previously submitted report that does not include full disclosure of foreign partnerships be corrected?
By reporting the error to name/email address in Division of Research.
Does the sponsored research of international students have to be reported?
In most cases, there is no reason to disclose participation of foreign students or postdocs on sponsored research, especially if all such work will be performed in the U.S. However, classified and export controlled projects will be subject to foreign national restrictions. It may be possible to employ certain foreign nationals on controlled projects after appropriate licenses and/or exemptions are secured. Please contact FAU Export Controls for more information on such cases. There are no foreign national restrictions on Fundamental Research. However, there may be cases where working with a student or postdoc might be considered a "foreign component," if that student or postdoc is performing effort in a foreign country. NIH defines a foreign component as "any significant scientific element or segment of a project outside of the United States, either by the recipient or by a researcher employed by a foreign organization, whether or not grant funds are expended."

Relevant Links

NIH/Senate Communications:   

Updated July 10, 2019: "Reminders of NIH Policies on Other Support and on Policies related to Financial Conflicts of Interest and Foreign Components:"

NIH asks inspector general to investigate 12 allegations of foreign influence in U.S. research:

March 30, 2018 Letter from NIH to research institutions regarding disclosure of foreign financial interests:

Aug. 20, 2018 Letter from NIH to research institutions regarding increased disclosure:

Sen. Chuck Grassley's letter to NIH, Oct. 24, 2018:

NIH response letter to Sen. Grassley, Dec. 21, 2018:

Sen. Grassley's response letter to NIH, Jan. 8, 2019:

Senate Committee on Finance: "Grassley Probes Foreign Threats to Taxpayer-Funded Research at Defense Department," April 2, 2019:

Senate Committee on Finance letter from Chuck Grassley to NSF Director France A. Córdova, April 15, 2019

Funding Agency Communications:  

DoD Letter to Universities

July 11, 2019: Research protection letter from NSF Director France A. Córdova

June 7, 2019: DOE Directive regarding Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Programs:

March 20, 2019: DOD memorandum on Actions for the Protection of lntellectual Property, Controlled Information, Key Personnel and Critical Technologies

Jan. 31, 2019: DOE Policy on Foreign Government Talent Recruitment Programs

Other Sources:   

FBI Report on the risks to academia (PDF):

NIH presentation on Foreign Influences on Research Integrity (PDF):

NSF Statement on security and science dated Oct. 23, 2018:

NIH Definition of Foreign Component:

NIH Definition of Other Support

NIH Application Instructions (Foreign Components mentioned on page 66):

NIH Guidance on Investigator Disclosures of Foreign Financial Interest:

H.R. 5515 Sec. 1286: National Defense Authorization Act's initiative to protect researchers from undue influence and security threats:,649EP,E29DCT,O1IA5,1#toc-HF98AABB1E47F407A86D0E399DD9C0FDB


Federal Bureau of Investigation, Counterintelligence Division

Foreign Government-Sponsored Talent Recruitment Plans, such as China's Talent Plans, Incentivize Economic Espionage and Theft of Trade Secrets

July, 2020

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Enhancing the Security and Integrity of America's Research Enterprise

June, 2020

National Institutes of Health

Advisory Committing to the Director Working Group on Foreign Influences on Research Integrity Update

June, 2020

Protecting U.S. Biomedical Intellectual Innovation

June, 2020