A 46-year-old California woman who used to live in Ohio has pleaded guilty after stealing pediatric medical research for the Chinese Communist Party.
“Li Chen was a trusted researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, conducting cutting-edge U.S. government-funded research,” FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge Chris Hoffman released in a statement. “With her guilty plea, she admits that she abused this trust to establish a company in China for her own financial gain. The FBI is committed to working closely with partners such as Nationwide Children’s Hospital to protect the innovations that make America a world leader in science and technology.”
Chen worked with her husband for a decade to steal the intellectual property. They planned to transfer and sell it in China.
"According to her plea agreement, Chen conspired to steal and then monetize one of the trade secrets by creating and selling exosome 'isolation kits.' Chen admitted to starting a company in China to sell the kits. Chen received benefits from the Chinese government, including the State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Chen also applied to multiple Chinese government talent plans, a method used by China to transfer foreign research and technology to the Chinese government," the Department of Justice revealed. "Exosomes play a key role in the research, identification and treatment of a range of medical conditions, including necrotizing enterocolitis (a condition found in premature babies), liver fibrosis and liver cancer."
The FBI is investigating thousands of cases of Chinese espionage around the country.