Joe Biden’s intransigence towards inappropriate behavior is once again proven. Eric Lander, a senior White House science adviser, tendered his resignation on Monday following accusations of harassment in the workplace.
“I am devastated to have made former and current colleagues suffer by the way I spoke to them,” Eric Lander, director of the bureau for science and technology policy, wrote in his letter. “I have sought to push myself and my colleagues to achieve our common goals, sometimes by questioning and criticizing,” he writes while acknowledging “having gone too far.”
On Monday, members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology requested that the White House provide them with a copy of the administration’s internal investigation report.
Dr. Lander, a mathematician by training who entered genetics, is best known as one of the leaders of the Human Genome Project and the former head of the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard. He was the first person in his role to be elevated to the presidential cabinet and was in charge of the president’s cancer “moonshot” initiative, which aims to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50 percent over 25 years. In recent weeks, he had delivered briefings on the subject to the president and first lady, whose eldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer in 2015.
But by the time he was appointed to be Mr. Biden’s science adviser, he was well known within the scientific community for offending women. Last January, 500 female scientists published an editorial in Scientific American that pleaded with Mr. Biden to consider naming someone else — preferably a woman — to the position.
“While we can celebrate the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to science, we must recognize that Lander has a reputation among some scientists for being controversial, and colleagues have criticized him for his ‘ego without end,’” the group wrote. They also pointed out that he had in the past toasted James Watson, a molecular biologist who, the authors of the letter wrote, had a “long history of racist and sexist comments.”
A spokesman already dismissed
The day after his inauguration, however, the Democratic president warned his teams that he would not tolerate any slippage. “I’m not kidding when I say this: if you work with me and I hear you treat a colleague with disrespect, or be contemptuous, I’ll fire you right away,” he said.
The departure of Eric Lander is not the first in Joe Biden’s teams. A spokesman had already had to pack his bags after threatening a journalist and making sexist remarks to her during a telephone exchange.