Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Federal prosecutors have charged Charles Lieber, chair of the Harvard University chemistry department, with lying about funds he obtained through a Chinese government recruitment program.

Why it matters: Lieber's arrest marks one of the highest-profile cases yet in a sweeping U.S. government investigation of undisclosed ties between U.S. research institutions and China.

Details: A celebrated scientist in the field of nanoscale electronics, Lieber is accused of making false statements to investigators in 2018 and 2019.

  • Beginning in 2011, Lieber served as a "strategic scientist" at Wuhan University of Technology, according to a Justice Department press release on Jan. 28.
  • From around 2012–2017, Lieber also allegedly participated in China's Thousand Talents program, a Chinese government program aimed at recruiting foreign experts in order to strengthen China's own research institutions.
  • As the recipient of millions of dollars of Defense Department funding, Lieber was required by law to disclose foreign funding or conflicts of interest. But Lieber allegedly failed to do so.

By the numbers: The Chinese university that Lieber partnered with allegedly paid him a monthly salary of $50,000 and as much as $158,000 per year for living expenses. He also received more than $1.5 million to build a lab in China.

The big picture: The FBI is seeking to crack down on the rampant theft of scientific and biomedical research perpetrated by people with ties to a foreign government or entity.

  • A recent report from the JASON program at MITRE Corp, which manages research on behalf of several U.S. government agencies, stated that foreign interference in and theft of U.S. research "represents a threat to our fundamental research enterprise and, in the longer run, our economic security and national security."
  • But another concern, according to the report, is the potential for overreaction that might inhibit scientific collaboration. According to the report: "The benefits of openness in research and of the inclusion of talented foreign researchers dictate against measures that would wall off particular areas of fundamental research."

Go deeper: FBI spied on Chinese students and scientists, new book reveals

Go deeper

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3 dead and thousands evacuated as Northern California fires explode

A building at the Meadowood Napa Valley luxury resort burns after the Glass Fire moved through the area on September 28, 2020 in St. Helena, California. Photo: by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Three people have died in a wildfire in Northern California and tens of thousands were evacuated across the state, as firefighters contended with strong winds and dry conditions that saw blazes explode across the state on Monday.

Driving the news: Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini confirmed the deaths occurred as the Zogg Fire spread across 15,000 acres, forcing the evacuation of 1,200 people. More than for 5o,000 people, per AP.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 33,273,720 — Total deaths: 1,000,555 — Total recoveries: 23,056,480Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 7,147,241 — Total deaths: 205,031 — Total recoveries: 2,794,608 — Total tests: 102,342,416Map.
  3. Business: Companies are still holding back earnings guidance.
  4. Health: Trump announces plan to distribute 150 million rapid tests —The childless vaccine.
  5. Media: Fauci: Some of what Fox News reports about COVID-19 is "outlandish"
  6. States: Cuomo extends New York moratorium on evictions until 2021.
  7. World: More than 1 million people have now died from coronavirus — India the second country after U.S. to hit 6 million cases.
Dave Lawler, author of World
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Global coronavirus death toll crosses 1 million

Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

The global toll of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 crossed 1 million on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins.

By the numbers: More than half of those deaths have come in four countries: the U.S. (204,762), Brazil (141,741), India (95,542) and Mexico (76,430). The true global death toll is likely far higher.