AUG. 1–PROVIDENCE, R.I. –A Chinese national who earned a doctoral degree from Brown University is wanted for allegedly stealing the herpes virus, antibodies, antibody clones and files from a laboratory.
University police told The Associate Press that Zhi Li, who is in the United States on a student visa, stole the materials so he could get full credit for research on blood clotting and prevent anyone else from recreating the work.
Li, 35, of the Bronx, N.Y., is charged with breaking and entering, larceny and computer-related crimes, The Providence Journal reported in its Thursday editions.
Li’s mentor, Elaine Bearer, discovered the break-in June 25 and called police. Bearer, Li and other students met with university police on July 1, and Li allegedly made statements about the break-in.
He returned several items, but a warrant was issued for his arrest after Bearer realized more items were missing.
Li was the lead author for a Brown research team that examined the blood-clotting role of Arp2/3, a complex of seven proteins found in animal and plant cells.
The research showed that the complex drives human blood platelets to change shape and begin the process of clotting, according to a June 15 report in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology.
Understanding the process could lead to better treatments for abnormal clotting, such as strokes, the report said.
Li based his doctoral thesis on the research.
He finished his studies last August and graduated this May, but never returned his key to the lab, police said. On June 21, he allegedly slipped into the biomedical building when someone walked out the door and used his key to enter the lab.
He allegedly took the antibodies from a freezer, stole computer disks and lab notes and deleted data from a computer, according to a police report.