Research security and ethics

Dr. Kelvin DroegemeierOn Sept. 10, 2020, VCU hosted a webinar with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Our Vice President for Research and Innovation, Srirama Rao, Ph.D., co-hosted and moderated this event. OSTP Director Kelvin Droegemeier, Ph.D., discussed the federal government’s latest updates and expectations related to foreign funds, outside support disclosures, and other research security and ethics issues in all disciplines. This conversation is at the forefront of Congress and funding agencies’ legislative and policy agendas.

Research security at VCU is a holistic term applied to the physical and digital protection of research data, intellectual property, and private information, as well as the proper stewardship of federal research funds both within the U.S. and abroad.

VCU strongly supports international collaboration and values its partnerships with universities and other organizations worldwide. It is important in pursuing these activities that all faculty, staff and students understand the need to maintain relationship transparency and be aware of the current regulatory environment. VCU has guidance and requirements that govern conflicts of interest and commitment — specifically, outside professional activities, financial interests, international collaborations, intellectual property protections, foreign gifts and contracts reporting that support compliance and protect and preserve one of the very best parts of VCU: our collaborative spirit.


VCU programs supporting research security and ethics

Export Compliance Program
Questions on shipping, international travel, international collaborations, controlled technology, sanctions, foreign influence, and talent programs –

Biosecurity ProgramQuestions on Dual Use Research of Concern, or other biological materials controlled for national security purposes –

Innovation Gateway 
Questions on intellectual property protections and disclosures or licensing of intellectual property –

Research Integrity and Ethics
Questions on disclosures of financial or other personal considerations that appear or create conflicts of interest in research, research misconduct and responsible conduct of research –

Integrity and Compliance Office
Questions on VCU’s Code of Conduct, and outside professional activity identification and disclosures –

Learn more about VCU programs supporting research security and ethics.

VCU’s cross-disciplinary international affairs workgroup

Message on International Activities and Collaborations from the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs and the vice president for research and innovation.

Goal: Assessing operations and working to prevent undue foreign influence through awareness


  • Dr. Jill Blondin, executive director (Global Education Office)
  • Dr. McKenna Brown, special assistant for global initiatives (College of Humanities and Sciences)
  • Dr. Charles Klink, senior vice provost for student affairs (Student Affairs)
  • Dr. Ram Gupta, associate dean for faculty research and development and professor of chemical and life science engineering (College of Engineering)
  • Dr. Edgar Rodas, associate professor of surgery (School of Medicine)
  • Tina Cunningham, associate vice president for research administration (Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation)
  • Jacqueline Kniska (group co-chair), chief ethics and compliance officer (Integrity and Compliance Office)

Outside resources and articles

APLU's Science and Security Section, University Actions to Address Concerns about Security Threats and Undue Foreign Government Influence on Campus - Released May 27, 2020 

Enhancing Security and Integrity of US Research Enterprise, - June 2020 - Case Studies: take a look at recent events that demonstrate how taking a principled approach to collaboration can continue to support the critical, open and collaborative research enterprise. Reviewing this may provide you and aware of risks and appreciate how compliance in activities can help thwart academic and research espionage. 

‘Has it peaked? I don’t know.’ NIH official details foreign influence probe - June 22, 2020

PSA: Foreign Government-sponsored Talent Recruitment Plans - July 16, 2020

AAMC Research Security and Undue Foreign Influence at U.S. Academic Institutions

Research Security Training

When to ask further questions on research security

  • Receive foreign funds
  • Receive unfunded resources including equipment, lab space other donations
  • Participation or request to participate in foreign government talent programs
  • Conducting outside professional activities
  • Foreign components in research (work performed outside the U.S.)
  • Export controlled technology or project (publication restrictions)
  • Conflicts of interest or commitment questions
  • Research ethics questions
  • Intellectual property disclosures

US funding agency guidance on undue foreign influence