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  • Washington Highlights

    Congressional Leaders Send Letter to NIH Director on Harassment in Research

    Tannaz Rasouli, Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach
    Christa Wagner, Manager, Government Relations

    House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Committee Ranking Members Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) sent a letter Aug. 6, asking National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, about the NIH’s plans to “address harassment and discrimination among NIH-funded research settings.”

    Specifically, they referenced a June National Academies report on harassment in academic science, engineering, and medicine, showing greater than 50 percent of women faculty and staff and 20-50 percent of women students encounter or experience sexual harassment [see Washington Highlights, June 15]. Sen. Murray and Rep. DeLauro included a series of questions to learn more about NIH’s plans to address the issue of sexual harassment in research.

    The lawmakers stated, “Federal funding should not support laboratories and institutions where workplace harassment is allowed to continue unaddressed. It is critical that NIH take proactive steps to hold its grantees accountable for fostering inclusive environments.”

    At the June 14-15 meeting of the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD), NIH Principal Deputy Director Larry Tabak, DDS, PhD, acknowledged the National Academies report and presented an update on the NIH’s efforts to address sexual harassment [see Washington Highlights, June 22]. Dr. Tabak noted that the NIH does not involve itself in personnel decisions within funded institutions, but the agency’s Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards do require personnel changes to NIH grants be reported to the agency. The terms state that “the recipient is required to submit a prior approval request to the [NIH] Grants Management Officer if the [Principal Investigator] … will withdraw from the project entirely, be absent from the project during any continuous period of 3 months or more, or reduce time devoted to the project by 25 percent.”