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Embattled White House Science Adviser Eric Lander Resigns (1)

Feb. 8, 2022, 1:54 AMUpdated: Feb. 8, 2022, 2:42 AM

White House science adviser Eric Lander will resign from his post effective by Feb. 18 in the wake of furor that erupted over reports of bullying behavior toward members of his staff.

“I believe it is not possible to continue effectively in my role, and the work of this office is far too important to be hindered,” Lander said Monday in his resignation letter. "[It]is clear that things I said, and the way I said them, crossed the line at times into being disrespectful and demeaning, to both men and women. That was never my intention. Nonetheless, it is my fault and my responsibility. I will take this lesson forward.”

A White House investigation had found Lander, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, bullied subordinates and created a hostile work environment for those on his team. Politico first reported the investigation. Lander later issued an apology.

Lander’s resignation was first reported by The Washington Post.

Earlier Monday, Bloomberg Law reported that Lander would not testify as scheduled Tuesday on a key Biden initiative.

Lander had been slated to appear before the health panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee for a hearing on the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, which is President Joe Biden’s proposal to create an entity to speed medical discoveries. The proposed agency is modeled on existing programs in the Departments of Defense and Energy.

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the health subcommittee, later confirmed the change. “The White House informed me that Dr. Eric Lander will not be testifying at the Health Subcommittee tomorrow,” she said in a statement. “The hearing will proceed with the second panel of witnesses.”

The hearing was originally set up as a two-part panel, with Lander speaking during the first half. Witnesses in the second panel will testify as scheduled.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific society, also dropped Lander from its annual conference.

“Unfortunately, toxic behavioral issues still make their way into the STEM community where they stifle participation and innovation. OSTP should be a model for a respectful and positive workplace for the scientific community—not one that further exacerbates these issues,” a joint statement from AAAS CEO Sudip Parikh, Chair of the Board Claire Fraser, President Susan Amara, and President-elect Gilda Barabino said.

(Updates with Lander's resignation.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeannie Baumann in Washington at jbaumann@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloombergindustry.com; Brent Bierman at bbierman@bloomberglaw.com