Washington Update

FASEB Responds to NIH ACD Update on Ending Sexual Harassment

By: Jacqueline Robinson-Hamm
Thursday, August 12, 2021

On August 4, FASEB transmitted comments to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) pertaining to the June 2021 update on implementing recommendations from the 2019 final report on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment. FASEB commended NIH for the first public report of aggregate case intake data, as well as findings and outcomes data. Sharing this information helps build trust in the NIH reporting system and demonstrates NIH is genuinely invested in ensuring research environments are safe.

NIH has made commendable progress in implementing recommendations from the 2019 final report, but key actions that could truly change the culture to end sexual harassment have yet to be undertaken. To this end, FASEB urged NIH to implement Recommendation 2.2, develop bridge funding for targets and affected individuals who lose salary support due to sexual harassment. Another way NIH could support targets of harassment would be to allow rolling fellowship submissions for applicants subjected to unsafe environments.

Furthermore, FASEB hopes to see NIH give considerable thought to Recommendation 1.4, establish mechanisms of accountability for findings of professional misconduct. The “pass the harasser” phenomenon remains troubling and persistent. Implementing this recommendation may help address the pervasiveness of harassment in research environments.

Overall, FASEB is grateful for the substantive update; in particular, NIH’s sharing of aggregate case data. We look forward to NIH taking bold steps to end harassment with future implementation of report recommendations.