Professor Eric Lander has resigned as head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) following allegations of bullying. “I am shocked that I have offended my former and current colleagues in the way I spoke to them,” US media quoted his resignation as saying on Monday. He wanted to make himself and his team achieve common goals – and he criticized that, too. Lander, who apologized to the team via email, wrote that at times what he said went overboard and was “disrespectful and insulting” to both men and women.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said US President Joe Biden accepted the resignation. The move followed reports of an internal White House investigation that found “credible evidence” of Lander’s violations of workplace policies, according to CNN.
The British online magazine Times of Higher Education (THE) reported that Lander is said to have humiliated female subordinates in particular. Politico reported that 14 current and former employees of the OSTP, which includes 140 employees, said they had been yelled at by Lander in the past year, harassed, boycotted, and ignored. The White House investigation also revealed that other prominent OSTP figures were implicated in the harassment.
According to media reports, Lander is a confidant of Biden. According to THE, he initially tried to hold onto Lander. However, the allegations put pressure on the US president, who announced upon taking office that he would immediately fire anyone found to be disrespectful.
Mathematician and biologist Lander was the first president of the OSTP and also a member of the Cabinet. He has been a leading figure in science and science policy for decades. He was the founding director of the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard University and vice chair of the Board of Science and Technology Advisors under President Obama.
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