Prominent Salk Institute Scientist Inder Verma Resigns

His decision came as an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him was ongoing.  

By Sukanya Charuchandra | June 12, 2018

The Salk Institute of Biological StudiesISTOCK, DOUGBERRYInder Verma, a leading cancer researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, resigned on June 6 during an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against him, reports Science. In a letter on June 11, Dan Lewis, the chair of the Board of Trustees and Rusty Gage, the president of the Institute, say the Board unanimously accepted Verma’s “unconditional resignation,” calling it an “appropriate responsive action,” without offering any specifics of the investigation.

According to Science, Salk hired The Rose Group, a law firm, to investigate the case against Verma in March. Following Science’s April reporting of sexual misconduct allegations by eight women with connections to the institute, Verma was placed on administrative leave. This was in addition to his suspension as PNAS’s editor-in-chief after a gender discrimination lawsuit was filed against the Salk Institute.

Verma claims he has never misbehaved, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune. In an email to the newspaper in April, he said, “I have never used my position at the Salk Institute to take advantage of others.” He went on to add, “I have also never engaged in any sort of intimate relationship with anyone affiliated with the Salk Institute.”

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Comments

June 13, 2018

If he's truly as innocent as he claimed, why did he resign?  If he's guilty of at least some of the allegations, why did he lie to the newspaper in April?

 

Certainly, if in fact he is guilty of inappropriate behavior toward women, Dr. Verma is hardly alone in the field of cellular, biological, and molecular sciences broadly writ. Womanizing a/o lecherous male faculty members, as well as just those who have genuinely fallen in love with femaile co-workers under less-than-fully-honorable circumstances, have long been a not-at-all-uncommon phenomenon (probably in other aademic fields as well), and in many cases these un-gentlemanly gentlemen were/are well-known as such among women in their fields (we women have networks, y'know).  Many of these men are highly regarded scientists who have made important discoveries in their fields. I am of of mixed minds about the rather sudden culture shift that results in punishing them drastically by destroying their careers. After all, just a few years ago, this kind of behavior was "wink-winked" away. 

I am NOT justifying or excusing their behaviors. Prior to my retirement, I was quite sensitized to the issue(s). In certain instances, when my position gave me some control over circumstances, I was able to take steps to ensure that I and other women with whom I worked were safe from harrassment or other "uncomfortable situations." I am simply wondering whether such drastic punishment, which in some cases may hamper scientific progress, is appropriate. The punishment should fit the transgression. And I'm just not sure whether such drastic punishment fits or not. 

 

 

 

 

June 13, 2018

If he's truly as innocent as he claimed, why did he resign?  If he's guilty of at least some of the allegations, why did he lie to the newspaper in April?

 

Certainly, if in fact he is guilty of inappropriate behavior toward women, Dr. Verma is hardly alone in the field of cellular, biological, and molecular sciences broadly writ. Womanizing a/o lecherous male faculty members, as well as just those who have genuinely fallen in love with femaile co-workers under less-than-fully-honorable circumstances, have long been a not-at-all-uncommon phenomenon (probably in other aademic fields as well), and in many cases these un-gentlemanly gentlemen were/are well-known as such among women in their fields (we women have networks, y'know).  Many of these men are highly regarded scientists who have made important discoveries in their fields. I am of of mixed minds about the rather sudden culture shift that results in punishing them drastically by destroying their careers. After all, just a few years ago, this kind of behavior was "wink-winked" away. 

I am NOT justifying or excusing their behaviors. Prior to my retirement, I was already quite sensitized to the issue(s). In certain instances, when my position gave me some control over circumstances, I was able to take steps to ensure that I and other women with whom I worked were safe from harrassment or other "uncomfortable situations." I am simply wondering whether such drastic punishment, which in some cases may hamper scientific progress, is appropriate. The punishment should fit the transgression. And I'm just not sure whether such drastic punishment fits or not. 

 

 

 

 

Avatar of: code001.it

code001.it

Posts: 6

June 14, 2018

In the recent months the problem of sexual harassment is starting to become a huge organizational problem too!

Many people (mainly men) that reached high level positions in organizations were accused of sexual harassment and the fact that it is happening in research facilities and organizations too should trigger a small hint in the minds of scientists too (implicit: not only in mine!): if all those experiments that are done on rats and mice and generally on dominant mammals are so well documented, how can those experiments be related with human behavior and mostly with hierarchical structures and personal power in the widest sense in those organizations too?

When I observe the behavior of scientists in my lab (my mind!), I noticed: the first thing is that that they are not aware of being essentially social mammals therefore to have a firmware that needs to structure their relationship in form of hierarchy; second thing I observe is that the environment is really competitive and so just for those with higher levels of testosterone or other forms of implicit ruler pulsions it permits to some individuals not only to dominate but to bring the organization has chosen them, to success; third I observe that they are perfectly aware that testosterone is related to the dominance and in the same time to sexual desire and to the need of satisfying it; fourth I guess that they are aware that in all other social mammals, males consider females surrounding/interacting-with their strict social/familiar environment are a belonging to them and so they feel the duty/right of having a fecundation action that in a male is simply expressed with the sexual act! Last not the least: are maybe scinetists social mammals? Mammals maybe, social, I have no idea!

They all know all that, yet they do not relate the things together: scientist think they can dominate brute matter with their minds! I could fire them mainly for that insane believing, showing the lack of scientific observation!

So I have no answer on how to solve the question but I was asking myself: firing them for something that is not related to their skills in managing and ruling the scientific competition - mostly considering that competition Vs worldwide competitors located maybe in country where all those problems are for sure set down as marginal - doesn't weaken the general capacity of competing hardly and pushing ahead all those structures? Rationalism is a fantastic lie that scientists tell themselves to think that they can dominate the reality which in turn shows how powerful is, menacing everyday what we think is our capacity to dominate our future!

I guess that you have to get out of it in a very different way than to fire those peoples or your research structures will become marginal very soon!

I guess that testosterone is strongly related to the exploration and tendency to move forward toward unknown areas! Is that for any reason related to scientific research?

That is the reality folks! Not an insane rational and conventional model!

My comment is just a hint/provocation/paradox to open an important discussion on how to solve and prevent the risk of misleading/dysfunctional fast solutions in sexual involvement in hierarchies in research institutions, is not at all a defense of sexual harassment!

Never heard about today's solutions will be our tomorrow's problems (Systems thinking: fifth discipline)?

Waiting for strong yet useless reactions!

Replied to a comment from code001.it made on June 14, 2018

June 21, 2018

Reply to code001.it:  

 

Your point/hypothesis (that the same innate biological /biochemical traits that lead to leadership & success in any business, including science, may also be the same ones that lead to intrinsic difficulty for an individual to recognize and/or control certain primal urges) is well-considered and plausible (albeit unproven, and probably not likely to be experimentally testable in a morally-acceptable way). It reinforces my concerns about the proper fit between transgression and punishment.  However, even if your hypothesis can be  DOES NOT justify inappropriate behaviors. After all, we "civilzed" humans expect ourselves to have a behavioral layer that is above the merely instinctual.

 

 

 

Popular Now

  1. Dartmouth Professor Investigated for Sexual Misconduct Retires
  2. Two University of Rochester Professors Resign in Protest
  3. Theranos Leaders Indicted For Fraud
    The Nutshell Theranos Leaders Indicted For Fraud

    Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges that allege the company’s promise to revolutionize blood testing swindled investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and put patients in danger.

  4. Laxative Causes Long-Term Changes to Mouse Microbiome