Washington: Top US government science advisor Eric Lander, who helped map the human genome, resigned on Monday after being found to have bullied his staff, and such behaviour President Joe Biden had vowed he would never tolerate when he took office. Lander resigned after an internal White House review sparked by a complaint filed last year found ‘credible evidence’ the top scientist was ‘bullying’ many staff members.
‘I am devastated that I caused hurt to past and present colleagues by the way in which I have spoken to them’, Lander wrote in his resignation letter. ‘I have sought to push myself and my colleagues to reach our shared goals- including at times challenging and criticizing’, he added, acknowledging that he ‘crossed the line at times into being disrespectful and demeaning’.
Lander was named director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in January last year under Biden, who elevated the White House science advisor position to cabinet-level, a break from the policy of former president Donald Trump as America grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic. Biden, a Democrat, had also set out to distinguish his administration from that of his Republican predecessor’s by pledging to safeguard a respectful and professional work environment. ‘If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot’, Biden told staff on the first day in office.