NIH Issues Statement on Efforts to Address Harassment in Science
NIH Issues Statement on Efforts to Address Harassment in Science

February 2019

On February 28, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provided an update on the agency’s efforts to address harassment both within NIH and with its external grantees.

In the update, NIH reported that the agency’s Working Group of the Advisory Council to the Director (ACD) on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment held its first meeting in February. The ACD is charged with:

  • Assessing the current state of sexual harassment allegation investigation, reporting, remediation, and disciplinary procedures at NIH-funded organizations.
  • Advising on oversight, accountability, and reporting measures for awardee institutions, that will encourage a reduction in, and prevention of, sexual harassment in biomedical research laboratories.
  • Proposing actions and policies that would promote a safe and inclusive culture at NIH-supported research conferences.
  • Suggesting system-wide changes to culture and climate to prevent harassment and gender discrimination through diffusion of hierarchical environments by mentoring networks and committee-based advisement, and strong and diverse leadership.
  • Developing strategies for encouraging research on anti-harassment policies, procedures, and training; and measures and evaluations of their effectiveness.

NIH leadership noted some of the takeaways from both the ACD working group meeting and meetings of the NIH Anti-Harassment Committee:

  • NIH leadership stated its commitment to transparency and accountability by addressing allegations of harassment by replacing principal investigators from grants and removing scientists from peer review panels as well as taking administrative actions with NIH staff in 2018.
  • NIH plans to clarify guidance on notification of removing personnel from an NIH grant due to harassment concerns, as well as ensuring that institutions have policies in place to prevent harassment and promote a safe environment.
  • NIH has set up an email account,, to report harassment by NIH grantees and will work to create additional communication strategies to report harassment.
  • NIH will plan listening sessions on the proposed recommendations.

The ACD working group plans to issue an interim report and recommendations in June with a final report out in December.