Associated Press Examines Allegations of Sexual Harassment, Safety Problems at NIH
AP/USA Today on Monday examined allegations of sexual harassment and "repeated disregard" for safety concerns in HIV/AIDS research at NIH. According to testimony and other documents obtained by the Associated Press, NIH medical officer Betsy Smith and Mary Anne Luzar, the chief regulatory compliance officer for AIDS research at the agency, cited examples of actions that made the workplace "intimidating."
Smith and Luzar cited incidents in which female employees received "unwanted hugs, kisses or catcalls in the hallways"; a safety order on a large study was delayed for almost two years; and safety conclusions were "changed or disregarded by supervisors," AP/USA Today reports. Smith and Luzar made the allegations in testimony for a lawsuit filed by Jonathan Fishbein, who alleges that NIH fired him as chief of human research protection in the agency AIDS division because he raised concerns about patient safety and research integrity.
The Senate and HHS Office of Inspector General have launched investigations into the Fishbein allegations, and NIH has launched an internal investigation into the sexual harassment allegations. Clifford Lane, deputy director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that "sexual harassment is not tolerated at NIH, and we are committed to ensuring that all employees are treated with dignity and respect" (AP/USA Today, 4/11).