Sexual harassment policies at NSF and NIH

Sexual harassment policies at NSF and NIH

Policies surrounding sexual harassment in science and federal grant funding have been heavily discussed and been the subject of updates in the last few days. We have attempted to summarize updates below, and may clarify with updates (which will be noted below). NIH creates sexual harassment website On Monday National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins issued a statement discussing how NIH is addressing sexual harassment. No policy changes were announced, a website with sexual harassment information was launched, and the notice spoke of “new initiatives” for the intramural program to be released in the Federal Register today, which appear to consist of a new Manual Chapter and policy piece on personal relationships. National Science Foundation increases oversight At the same time, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced a new term and condition of award, following a process of proposing rule changes and soliciting public comments (to which Future of Research submitted comments in May 2018). The new term and condition of award requires institutions to notify NSF when a funded investigator is placed under administrative action at an institution. Further details are summarized in their press release and fact sheet. NIH responds to NSF changes Following the announcement by NSF, NIH issued a statement acknowledging NSF’s new terms, but stating that: “Legal constraints that apply differently to NSF and NIH currently prevent NIH from immediate implementation of an identical policy.  A rulemaking process would be needed to determine if NIH can require the same responses from our awardee organizations.” The process in question appears to be due to differences in the Code of Federal Regulations....
Contact your Senators to request they ask the NIH Director why the NIH continues to give grants to scientists found guilty of sexual harassment

Contact your Senators to request they ask the NIH Director why the NIH continues to give grants to scientists found guilty of sexual harassment

On Thursday, August 23, at 10 AM EDT the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing entitled “Prioritizing Cures: Science and Stewardship at the National Institutes of Health”. The hearing will be webcast here. Last week Senate HELP Ranking Member Patty Murray sent a letter to Dr. Francis Collins, who will be testifying at the meeting, posing a number of questions about how NIH handles sexual harassment among funded investigators. They draw attention to the NIH’s role in this problem, ask for evidence of the NIH’s actions to date, and request policy change. Francis Collins, Hannah Valentine and Michael Lauer wrote a letter to Nature in 2016 about the need for policy changes.   We are asking you to join those who have a started a campaign to contact elected representatives on the HELP Committee. A graduate student at Yale, Sarah Smaga, has produced a call script for the HELP Committee Meeting including the names and telephone numbers of Senators on the committee which you can access here. The call asks for specific policies to ensure that those found guilty of sexual harassment are not able to receive NIH funding, enabling them to put more trainees and their careers at risk.   Two members of the committee are particularly focused on prospects of early career researchers: Susan Collins of Maine and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin led a bipartisan effort focused on trainees that resulted in the Next Generation Researchers Initiative at NIH being mandated under the 21st Century Cures Act. It seeks to improve prospects for early career researchers, paying attention to recommendations from a study at the...
Future of Research response to NIGMS RFI on postdoctoral transitions to diversify research faculty

Future of Research response to NIGMS RFI on postdoctoral transitions to diversify research faculty

  This RFI closes July 20th – please read below if you are still in time to comment – and comment here   The National Institute of General Medical Sciences recently issued a Request For Information (RFI) seeking input on strategies to enhance postdoctoral career transitions, with an aim to promoting faculty diversity. You can read more about it in this Blog post, “Give Input on Strategies to Enhance Postdoctoral Career Transitions to Promote Faculty Diversity”; you can find the full RFI here and comments are submitted here.   As described in the Request For Information:   “Specific topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:   The barriers scientists from underrepresented groups face as they progress from postdoctoral training into faculty positions at research-intensive institutions, and potential strategies to overcome these barriers. The qualities and perspectives that scientists from underrepresented groups bring to the research enterprise, and how these can be drawn upon to encourage and promote career transitions into the professoriate at research-intensive institutions. Approaches key stakeholders (e.g., faculty advisors, institutions, scientific societies, etc.) can use to promote the successful career transitions of postdoctoral scientists from underrepresented groups into the professoriate at research-intensive institutions, and how these can be coordinated and sustained to maximize impact. Current strategies that have been successful in promoting the transition of postdoctoral scientists from underrepresented groups into independent, tenure-track faculty positions. Any other comments or recommendations for NIGMS to consider with respect to programs to enhance career transitions of postdoctoral scientists from diverse groups into the professoriate at research-intensive institutions.”   Below and here as a PDF on our press page you can...
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report on sexual harassment in academia to be released June 12th

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report on sexual harassment in academia to be released June 12th

  From the National Academies site:   “The study scope will include the following:  Review of the research on the extent to which women in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine are victimized by sexual harassment on college and university campuses, in research labs and field sites; at hospitals/medical centers; and in other academic environments; Examination of existing information on the extent to which sexual harassment in academia negatively impacts the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women pursuing scientific, engineering, technical, and medical careers, with comparative evidence drawn from other sectors, such as the military, government, and the private sector. Identification and analysis of policies, strategies and practices that have been the most successful in preventing and addressing sexual harassment in these settings. For purposes of this study, the definition of sexual harassment includes unwanted sexual advances and requests for sexual favors and other unwelcome conduct that is sexual in nature, as well as those situations in which the work or study environment is made intimidating or offensive as a result of actions that are gender-based and that interfere with an individual’s academic or work performance, opportunities for advancement, and morale.   Report Release Event Public Report Release Event June 12, 2018, 11 am – 12:30 pm ET Washington, DC To attend in person or via webcast: Webcast will be made live on this page on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 11:00 AM ET. How can academic institutions improve in the #MeToo era? Join the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on Tuesday June 12, 2018, 11 am – 12:30 pm ET, for the public release of...
Future of Research Statement on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Report, “The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through”

Future of Research Statement on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Report, “The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through”

Future of Research has issued a statement on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report, “The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through. You can find the text of the statement below, and a downloadable PDF version of the statement here.   *****   Future of Research endorses the recommendations in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report, “The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through,” released on April 12, 2018. This report addresses the factors influencing transitions of trainees in biomedical and behavioral sciences into independent research careers. It offers recommendations to reform systemic issues that reduce the efficiency of these transitions, and thus affect the productivity and scientific discoveries of researchers in the United States. This report, mandated by Congress under the 21st Century Cures Act, was envisioned by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME).   Though the issues that plague the biomedical research system have long been discussed within the scientific community, the key stakeholders (such as federal agencies, private funders, and universities) have frequently abdicated their responsibility for the system. The “Breaking Through” report addresses this issue head-on. The report argues that greater transparency, accountability and shared responsibility are needed to improve the biomedical enterprise.   Many of these suggestions have been made before, and while some changes and interventions have been made, others have not been heeded and have not resolved a key issue: that this enterprise depends on a large amount of cheap, and mostly foreign, labor in the guise of training. We recognize that no stakeholder seems willing to take responsibility...
Postdoc salaries at the National Institutes of Health in 2016 and 2017, and advocating for NRSA stipend raises

Postdoc salaries at the National Institutes of Health in 2016 and 2017, and advocating for NRSA stipend raises

As part of our effort to make individual postdoc salaries in the U.S. more transparent, we have been carrying out Freedom of Information requests at public institutions to have a standard, albeit blunt, instrument for gathering data on postdoctoral researchers. You can find more information and data on our requests to public universities for data as of Dec 1st 2016 here; but as we continue with this project, we have recently gathered data from the National Institutes of Health for salaries for their intramural postdocs (i.e. those postdocs who work at NIH Institute laboratories).   Using Freedom of Information requests, we have gathered data for postdocs at all institutes at the NIH as of Dec 1st 2016 and Dec 1st 2017, principally in Intramural Research Training Awards (IRTA, for US Citizens and permanent residents) and Visiting Fellowships (VF, for those typically on non-immigrant visas).   The request asked for: “An excel spreadsheet which provides: The total number of postdoctoral researchers at the institute, appointed to postdoctoral intramural training awards IRTAs or as Visiting Fellows, with their job titles on both 12/1/ 2016 and 12/1/17. The annual salaries on both 12/1/16, and 12/1/17; or monthly compensation received for the payroll month of December 2016 and December 2017, of each of the postdoctoral researchers in the institute appointed to postdoctoral intramural training awards IRTAs or as Visiting Fellows.”   Here we provide a very brief overview of the data that we have gathered, which we are continuing to interrogate. A more thorough analysis will follow in due course.   Number of Postdocs The NIH’s page on Postdoctoral Programs at NIH states: “Altogether, the NIH is...