ASBMB statement on Eric Lander's resignation from OSTP

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) condemns any form of workplace harassment and urges the Biden administration to substantively address the negative impact of Eric S. Lander’s tenure as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Lander was the president’s top science adviser and resigned on Monday after acknowledging that he demeaned and disrespected his colleagues at OSTP.  

The White House conducted a two-month internal investigation and concluded there was “credible evidence of disrespectful interactions with staff by Dr. Lander and OSTP leadership.” The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology has requested a copy of the White House report and requested that the White House brief committee staff on the report’s findings and planned next steps to ensure OSTP is taking action to improve the workplace environment. 

We applaud the committee’s swift effort to ensure that OSTP does not permit workplace mistreatment. No individual should be pushed out of their position due to harassment of any sort. There can be no room within the sciences, or any other discipline, for harassment or toxic work environments. 

We look to federal research agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, to lead the American research enterprise with dignity, honor and equity. The OSTP should be held to the same standard. 

President Biden and his team must urgently fill the OSTP director position in Lander's absence; the OSTP is vital in leading the nation's research enterprise, and this key cabinet-level position must not be vacant.  

As we said a year ago, the ASBMB hopes the White House sees Lander’s departure as an opportunity to nominate leadership that is diverse and reflective of the scientific community as a whole.