NIH Imposes Term Limits for Lab Chiefs
NIH Imposes Term Limits for Lab Chiefs

NIH Imposes Term Limits for Lab Chiefs

More turnover in the agency’s intramural program could boost diversity among laboratory leadership.

May 3, 2019
Kerry Grens

ABOVE: WIKIMEDIA, NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE

The National Institutes of Health’s intramural research program will begin imposing 12-year term limits on laboratory leaders, Science reports. The policy, which goes into effect next year, aims to expand the diversity of those in management positions who oversee research groups, most of which are currently held by white men.

At the moment, 71 out of 272 chiefs have held their jobs for more than two decades. Hannah Valantine, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) chief officer for scientific workforce diversity, tells Science that the goal is to have half of lab leadership positions held by women; currently it’s 26 percent.

Some have questioned whether it’s a sound policy to remove lab leaders who are doing a good job. NIH’s deputy director for intramural research, Michael Gottesman, tells Science that there will be exceptions to the rule if changeover would have “serious consequences.”