In signing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) Wednesday, Jan. 29, U.S. President Donald Trump said it is a trade “partnership with Mexico and Canada and ourselves against the world.” The agreement replaces the North America Free Trade Agreement that came into force 26 years ago under President Bill Clinton. Calling it the gold standard for future agreements, the Association for Accessible Medicines said, “Not only will patients have greater access to affordable medicines as a result of the USMCA, but America’s patients can be assured that this agreement promotes competition, access and innovation.” On the eve of the signing, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) announced a new work-sharing arrangement that will accelerate the process of getting a patent in Mexico for businesses and individuals that already have a U.S. patent. Under their agreement, the two offices will implement a parallel patent grant framework allowing IMPI to leverage USPTO search and examination results when granting a corresponding Mexican patent.
The chair of Harvard University’s chemistry and chemical biology department and two Chinese nationals were charged Tuesday, Jan. 28, in connection with aiding China, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ). Charles Lieber, a Harvard professor who has received more than $15 million in grants since 2008 from the NIH and the U.S. Department of Defense, was arrested Tuesday on one count of making a materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statement. Beginning in 2011, unbeknownst to Harvard, Lieber became a “strategic scientist” at Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in China and was contracted to participate in China’s Thousand Talents Plan from about 2012 to 2017. Under that contract, Lieber was paid $50,000 per month, living expenses of about $158,000 and more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at the university. According to the complaint against him, Lieber lied about his involvement in the Chinese talent recruitment program and his affiliation with WUT, causing Harvard to falsely tell the NIH that he had no formal association with the Chinese university. The Chinese nationals, Yanqing Ye and Zaosong Zheng, were charged in separate incidents. Zheng conducted cancer research from 2018 to 2019 at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He was arrested at Boston’s Logan International Airport last month when federal officers discovered 21 vials of allegedly stolen biological research hidden in a sock in one of his bags. Zheng admitted he intended to take the vials to China to conduct research in his own lab and then publish the results under his name, according to DoJ. The charges against Ye, who allegedly lied about being an active officer in China’s military when she entered the U.S. as a student, involve using her time in the U.S. to do defense research for China and sending China information about two U.S. scientists with expertise in robotics and computer science.