Export Controls


Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM) is fully committed to compliance with all United States export control laws and regulations.  Export controls and trade sanctions regulate and restrict the release of critical technologies, software, equipment, chemical, biological materials and other materials, and services to foreign nationals and foreign countries for reasons of foreign policy and national security. All members of the WCM community—including faculty, students, staff, volunteers, visitors, contractors, and consultants—must comply with all export control laws and regulations.

Detailed information about WCM's export controls compliance program can be found below in the Guidelines section. For general inquiries, please email exportcontrols@med.cornell.edu.

Office Roles and Responsibilities

The Export Controls Office works in collaboration with various business units to ensure compliance with export control regulations. Below are the units that oversee various aspects of the export controls program:

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)

EHS must review and approve the export of all goods based upon BIS regulations.  EHS will also assist in the assessment of “Dangerous Goods” classification when necessary.  Factors that may affect approvals include the type of Dangerous Good, the total value of requested items, the manufacturer recommended shipping temperatures, and the end use of the items.  Exports may require permits, filings, or special provisions based on their classification.  For this reason, members of the WCM community must consult with EHS and/or the Research Integrity Office to export consumables, data, technology, medical devices, or pharmaceuticals. The Export Controls Office and EHS have the authority to halt shipments that do not pass the export control review process. Please submit a Dangerous Goods Assessment form to EHS at least one (1) week prior to the anticipated export date.  EHS will assess all items for Dangerous Goods classification and/or export restrictions.  Forms and additional information can be obtained by clicking here.

Contacts: Abigail Nixon, aeo2003@med.cornell.edu; Kitty Ng-Yeung, kyn4001@med.cornell.edu

Office of Sponsored Research Administration (OSRA)

OSRA reviews research proposals to identify situations which may trigger export control issues, such as, but not limited to, publication or foreign national restrictions, shipments of equipment overseas and deemed exports.  OSRA negotiates research terms and conditions to ensure that WCM research projects qualify for the fundamental research exclusion to export control regulations.  

Contacts: Aleta Gunsul, alg2047@med.cornell.edu; Stephen Hunt, sjh2004@med.cornell.edu

Information Technologies and Services (ITS)

ITS requires minimum security requirements on all devices connecting to the WCM network. Such requirements are detailed in ITS policies, but include items such as system management software for security update distribution and remote wiping capabilities, encryption software, anti-virus/anti-malware software, and data loss prevention monitoring software. In addition, ITS has developed and implemented attestations which must be completed by all workforce members on an annual basis. Lastly, ITS has several monitoring tools and dashboards in place to detect inappropriate flow of data that may be in violation of existing policies. This includes firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, data loss prevention, audit logging, and email security scanning, among others. For additional resources please refer to the following links:

Contact: Brian Tschinkel, brt2008@med.cornell.edu; Vinay Varughese, vinay@med.cornell.edu

Purchasing and Procurement

Purchasing Operations reviews the terms and conditions of vendor agreements for export control language that could trigger a review, as well as classification of the equipment or materials being purchased.


New vendors on Payment Requisitions e-forms are screened against restricted and denied party lists using Descartes Visual Compliance software.  All new Foreign Person vendors are first sent to the Compliance Department to ensure proper backup and tax implications if any, before being routed to Accounts Payable via the e-form process. 

Contact: Paul Brown, pmb2004@med.cornell.edu

Center for Technology Licensing (CTL)

Any biological, data or technology shipments must have a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) in place prior to shipment.

Contact: Lisa Placanica, lmp26@cornell.edu

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

The IACUC oversees all research that involves vertebrate animals, conducts evaluations of the institution’s animal care and use program, and performs routine inspections of animal housing and procedure facilities.

Contact: Jennifer Akl, jea2012@med.cornell.edu

Human Resources

WCM Human Resources completes a post offer background check, including restricted party screening, on all new hires.

Contacts: Abdul Sheikh, abs4012@med.cornell.edu; Susan Shevlin, sshevlin@med.cornell.edu

External Affairs

The Office of External Affairs has implemented a series of procedures to mitigate the potential of WCM soliciting or accepting gifts from foreign persons or entities which may damage the reputation of the institution or violate export control and foreign gift reporting regulations.

Contacts: Gloria Kao, glkao@med.cornell.edu; Rhonda Holdip, rhh2003@med.cornell.edu

Special Precautions for Travel to High Risk Countries, including China, Russia, and Venezuela

High risk countries—namely China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria—represent foreign entities that pose a high risk of compromise or other security attack against the USA.Take only the minimum number of electronic devices needed for your trip. You are to leave your WCM devices at home.

  • Take only the minimum number of electronic devices needed for your trip. You are strongly encouraged to leave your WCM devices at home.
  • Submit a request to borrow a laptop from the Library. Some high risk countries, including China, prohibit the import of encrypted devices, and taking a standard WCM laptop into the country poses a real risk of your device being compromised.
  • If possible, you should not access websites containing sensitive information (e.g., financial, health, etc.) while connected to public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Chinese officials often block the use of VPN software to protect your privacy on the internet, but you can attempt to use VPN software from ITS to access WCM resources while abroad.
  • Keep electronic devices in your possession; hotel staff often have access to in-room safes.
  • If you are traveling to China, Russia, or Venezuela, you must complete the Electronic Export Information (EEI) filing. Instructions for completing the EEI can be found here: Job Aid: Export Control Travel Filing
  • To make the EEI filing, each individual traveler needs to know the export control classification number (ECCN) for all items being reported. The ECCNs for devices can be found in the documents below, according to device type:

Hiring from Partially and Fully Embargoed Countries

Please contact WCM's Export Controls Office at exportcontrols@med.cornell.edu when considering hiring personnel from any foreign country.

The United States Government strategically enforces embargos or total bans on unlicensed transactions with specific countries and regions across the globe with the interest of national security and other priorities. North Korea, Syria and Iran are prime examples of comprehensively embargoed countries on which all economic activities are prohibited, including a ban on all imports and sanctions on financial institutions.

Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM) generally engages in fundamental research with the explicit intent to broadly disseminate research results in reports, academic journals, conferences, and other venues. As a result, most of our faculty conduct research that may be exempt from United States Export Control laws and other such regulations. However, it is incumbent upon WCM faculty and staff to understand potential limitations and barriers to hiring personnel from embargoed countries and adequately protect their research programs.

If an individual is not on a sanctioned list, there is no WCM policy prohibiting labs from hiring personnel from embargoed countries. However, it is crucial to understand the restrictions in place that prohibit transactions with such countries and how they impact hiring. WCM may not disclose controlled technology to an embargoed country, and it is important to note that disclosure to a non-US national in a WCM lab is effectively a disclosure to the embargoed country and considered a “deemed” export.

As with any non-US hire, documentation must be processed through the WCM Immigration Office and approved by the US State Department. If a visa is approved and offer accepted, the following should be reviewed closely when hiring a candidate from an embargoed country:

  • Establish and review controls within the department and lab to ensure the individual can only perform fundamental research while at WCM. Research may not be confidential in nature and results must be broadly disseminated as appropriate in academic journals, conferences, etc.
  • The individual cannot have an affiliation with the Government of the embargoed country or a non-Governmental entity within the country, i.e., an academic entity, during their tenure at WCM. They cannot receive financial support from an entity within an embargoed country. The individual cannot acknowledge affiliations with or financial support from the embargoed country on publications. Should the individual be given author credit, their sole affiliation on publications is strictly limited to WCM.
  • The individual cannot have access to any proprietary information such as that covered under a non-disclosure agreement without the review and approval of Cornell University’s Export Controls Officer.
  • The individual may not have access to encryption source code that is not publicly available.
  • The individual cannot have access to any ITAR controlled equipment. (A definition of such equipment can be provided by the Export Control Office.)
  • The individual cannot have any IT administrator access and cannot upload or download software of any kind on a WCM desktop/laptop or other device.
  • No imports from or exports to the foreign country may be conducted by WCM without express approval of Cornell’s Export Control Officer. Approval is likely to require a license.
  • Should you intend to pay the individual from grants, including NIH/US Government agency funds, discuss with the agency grants manager and/or program officer to confirm approval. While not explicitly prohibited, it does attract a very high level of scrutiny especially with the government’s concentrated focus on Undue Foreign Influence and Foreign Export Controls.

We recommend that departments proceed with caution with the understanding that they must have backup plans in place to support salary or expenses for personnel to return home, and that the Department must be as invested as the PI about ensuring all the physical, IT and other controls are in place.

Policies and Forms



What are export controls and why do they exist?

Export Controls refers to a variety of U.S. federal laws and regulations controlling what commodities, technologies, software, and services may be sent to non-U.S. locations or disclosed to non-U.S. persons. The purpose of these is to protect U.S. national security and non-U.S. policy interests from malign non-U.S. actors who may wish to access our most advanced and useful technologies.

Isn’t academia exempt from these rules?

Not entirely. While there are some important “carve-outs” from these rules for institutions of higher learning in the U.S. (see here), export controls can and do apply to a variety of common activities occurring within the research enterprise at WCM and elsewhere.

International shipping, travel to non-U.S. locations, or even hosting non-U.S. national visitors can all have potential export controls implications for you and WCM.

What is the Fundamental Research Exclusion (FRE)?

The FRE is one of the useful carve-outs afforded to academia with regards to export controls in the U.S. If your work qualifies as fundamental research (no barriers to publication or participation in the research efforts) then the results of such research are NOT subject to export controls requirements.

What is WCM's policy on fundamental research; can I do controlled or classified work here?

WCM only conducts research that would fall under the FRE. Research projects that do not permit the free and open publication of results are not accepted at WCM. Therefore no export-controlled or classified work may be conducted here. Refer to University Policy 4.22.

Great effort is put into ensuring sponsored research at WCM does not come with problematic clauses or restrictions that would negate the FRE – and thus subject the products of our research work to export controls.

Does the FRE cover the export of physical items?

No, only non-tangible research results in the form of technology are excluded under the FRE. Physical items will always remain subject to U.S. export controls. Depending on various factors a license may be required to physically export an item.

What if the physical item I need to ship was developed from a fundamental research project?

The item would still be subject to export controls (and potential licensing) regardless of whether it was the result of fundamental research. As stated above, the FRE never exempts physical items from export control.

What if my fundamental research project involves proprietary background data (inputs) from the sponsor or another third party?

While your research results will be exempt from export controls under the FRE, any proprietary data provided to you from outside of WCM may be subject to export controls. All such transfers of data to WCM need to be governed by a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) negotiated by the Office of Sponsored Research Administration (OSRA) with input from the WCM Export Controls Office (ECO).

So, even though my international shipment is related to my research and is non-commercial, it’s still an export?

Correct; regardless of whether you’re selling any items to the recipient overseas you are engaging in an export activity by sending something out of the U.S.

What about temporary shipments that come back to the U.S.?

Temporary international shipments are still considered exports and must comply with all applicable regulations. There are however certain cases where a temporary export may not require an export license. The WCM Export Controls Office will assist in making this determination.

Is hand-carrying an item during my travels considered an export?

Yes, anytime you bring WCM-owned items with you during international travel (whether in checked or carry-on luggage or on your person) you have just exported such items to your country of destination and any other countries you transited. Export controls regulations and licensing requirements apply equally to such hand-carried exports (although more exemptions may apply for travel than shipping).

Do I need an export license to carry a laptop to a non-U.S. country?

Many factors play into that but, for most standard-issued WCM devices you would not require a license to most countries. However, if there is any proprietary technical data on the device, or if it contains software programs other than those normally installed by the manufacturer or WCM IT (e.g. MS Office, etc.) than those may trigger the need for an export license. Additionally, the destination you travel could play a role in the determination process.

Please contact the WCM Export Controls Office at exportcontrols@med.cornell.edu if you have any questions. 

Are there certain countries that export controls makes off-limits?

Yes, currently the following countries/territories are subject to comprehensive trade embargoes and sanctions:

  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • North Korea
  • Syria
  • Certain regions of Ukraine

Nearly all activities with or within these locations (including with universities in these locations) will require US government approval and must be discussed with the WCM Export Controls Office first.

Depending on the nature of your research there may be other country-specific restrictions or considerations to take into account.

Are there certain non- U.S. companies, persons, or other universities that I cannot engage with?

Yes, the U.S. government maintains various lists of so-called “Restricted Parties”. Such entities are either prohibited from being involved in export transactions generally, or are sanctioned to the extent that any interaction with them would be prohibited without a license. Contact the WCM Export Controls Office at exportcontrols@med.cornell.edu for screening of any non- U.S. entities you may wish to collaborate or engage with.

Additionally, there are certain entities that WCM will not allow collaboration with regardless of discipline or circumstances.

What is an export license and how do I get one?

An export license is specific authorization from the US government to engage in an export or sanctions activity that would otherwise be prohibited. These licenses must be obtained beforehand and are situation-specific (i.e. no “blanket licenses” can be obtained for your lab).

All export or sanctions licenses at WCM must be obtained via the WCM Export Controls Office (ECO).

Who is considered a non-U.S. national for the purposes of export controls?

Any person who is not either:

  1. A U.S. Citizen,
  2. A U.S. Permanent Resident (i.e. a green card holder), or
  3. A person offered Protected Status under 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3)…

is considered a non-U.S. national for the purposes of exports controls regulations. Also, employees of non-U.S. entities (including U.S. persons) are treated as non-U.S. nationals no matter where located.

I have a non- U.S. national visiting my lab; do I need an export license?

Perhaps, this will depend on many factors. Generally-speaking having a non-U.S. national visiting or working in your lab does not alone necessitate the need for an export license. There would need to be an actual release of export-controlled technology or software to the non-U.S. national (i.e. a deemed export).

If you plan on sharing any information or software with them that is NOT already published and in the public domain, it is possible an export license could be required. Similarly, if you have export-controlled items in your lab and the non-U.S. national requires direct access to them, it is possible a license is needed for that activity – further analysis by the WCM Export Controls Office is necessary.

Also, keep in mind that if your visitor needs to take items from your lab back out of the country with them, this is an export that may require licensing.

My research isn’t funded by the Department of Defense (DOD); do I really need to consider export controls?

 Yes, the source of funding is not always a proper gauge of whether or not your project could be affected by export controls regulations. There are DOD-funded projects for which export controls are not a factor and conversely, certain non DOD-funded projects are affected by export controls.

I’ve been invited to speak at a conference in Iran. Are there any restrictions on this?

Yes, there are prohibitions on providing services (such as lectures or speeches) while in Iran due to the sanctions on that nation. The WCM Export Controls Office should be consulted immediately if you are invited to attend any event in Iran, or if you are considering similar activities in that country.


July 5, 2022: On July 11, 2022, two updated University-wide policies will come into effect for all WCM faculty, staff, and students. The policies are Policy 4.21, Research Data Retention, and Policy 4.22, Export and Import Control Compliance. Click here for full memo.

March 3, 2022: Cornell University’s Office of Export Controls has put out information regarding the situation in Ukraine and Russia. The memo summarizes the current restrictions. Click here for full memo.

March 26, 2021: Update on the U.S. federal government's regulatory requirements for all persons planning personal or business travel to China, Russia, or Venezuela. Click here for full memo.

January 19, 2021: Be advised that the federal government has imposed reporting requirements on all persons travelling to China, Russia, or Venezuela. Under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), every person that travels to China, Russia, and Venezuela, must report all items carried into the above countries. Click here for full memo.

Office Contacts

Thomas H. Blair, JD
Chief Research Compliance Officer, Research Integrity Officer
(646) 962-2100
Omar Perez, JD
Manager, General Research Compliance
(646) 962-4059
Jerin Jabin
Research Compliance Assistant
Joseph Nguyen
Research Compliance Assistant