NIH Takes Action To End Sexual Harassment in Biomedical Research

Funding News Edition: July 21, 2021
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Over the past several years, NIH has taken a number of steps towards ending sexual harassment at NIH-funded institutions by developing and publishing processes for handling allegations of sexual harassment at NIH-funded institutions. The Extramural Integrity Team reviews all allegations of professional misconduct in a similar manner to its review of allegations of research misconduct.

NIH has already implemented several recommendations from the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) Working Group on Changing the Culture To End Sexual Harassment. NIH issued a June 11, 2021 Guide notice announcing its expectation that grant recipients who request changes to the principal investigator (PI), key personnel, or recipient institution include notification when the requested changes are related to concerns about safety or issues related to sexual harassment, bullying, and other hostile working conditions. Additionally, NIH has published a web-based form, email address, and phone number for anyone to use to report allegations.

Harassment and Discrimination Data on Display

During the June ACD meeting, the Office of Extramural Research (OER) shared casework data on allegations of sexual harassment, bullying, and other forms of harassment within the span of four years (from 2018 to 2021). Notably, OER documents a recent rise in the number of racial discrimination cases compared to previous years. 

To examine some of the casework data, read the June 29, 2021 Open Mike blog post An Update on Implementing ACD Recommendations on Changing the Culture To End Sexual Harassment by Dr. Mike Lauer, NIH’s deputy director for extramural research.

Ensuring an Inclusive Work Environment

During the June meeting, OER also presented additional data that document how harassment cases were resolved while working with the recipient institution. NIH removed a number of PIs from grants and individuals from peer review panels as well.

For additional guidance, go to NIH Process for Handling Allegations of Sexual Harassment on an NIH-Funded Project at a Recipient Institution.

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