The Salk Institute for Biological Studies has taken the prominent cancer and gene therapist Inder Verma on vacation and initiated an investigation into the allegations against him.
Dan Lewis, chairman of the San The Board of Trustees of Diego Institute today announced in an email to Salk employees the moves.
He wrote that the decision to put Verma, 70, on leave was taken yesterday by the board.
Lewis wrote, without specifying that the allegations involved sexual harassment:
Recently, the institute became aware of allegations of Indian Verma. In accordance with Salk's Code of Conduct for Workplace Behavior, the Institute has conducted a formal investigation, led by an independent external party.
We also learned that science has a story about Dr. Ing. Verma and related allegations prepared. Earlier this week, the reporter presented the Institute with information about its history, which contained claims the Institute did not know about before. We take these allegations very seriously and have broadened the scope of the investigation.
Yesterday our Board of Trustees met to determine a suitable course of action. With immediate effect, Dr. Verma is on the assessment leave until the result of the investigation is present. During this time, he will not perform any scientific or administrative tasks on behalf of the institute.
On April 17 Science requested an interview with Salk regarding sexual harassment allegations against Verma, and Salk's in 1974. Instead, the institute asked for a list of detailed written questions that would be available on Wednesday morning, the 18th April, received from Science .
Verma dismissed the allegations in a statement by his lawyer. "I never used my position at the Salk Institute to exploit others," he wrote. "I have never had any kind of intimate relationship with anyone affiliated with the Salk Institute, I have never touched anyone who is affiliated with the Salk Institute inappropriately or sexually charged comments, I have never admitted that abusive or sexually charged conversations, jokes, material, etc. occur at the Salk Institute. "
Salk began his investigation of Verma last February a Salk spokesman In an e-mail wrote the Institute on 12 March, The San Diego-based The Rose Group, an international employment law and consulting company, conducts an external investigation led by Ken Rose, Group Leader. Email: Salk's board of directors also appointed Salk's interim president yesterday Rusty Gage asked to stay as President – which he agreed – and put the search for a new president on hold to the outgoing Nobel Peace Prize claimant Elizabeth Blackburn.
I've never used my position at the Salk Institute to exploit others.
"It goes without saying that the past year was a challenge for us," wrote Lewis. "[But] nothing we have experienced so far has shaken my faith in this extraordinary place or tarnished my outlook on our future." Lewis praised Verma's "extraordinary" contributions to science and his leadership in Salk.
"But," he wrote, "Salk will not endorse any results of inappropriate behavior in the workplace, regardless of his status or influence."
Last summer, Salk senior women scientists sued the Institute for Gender-Related Discrimination and called it "Old Boys Club", which systematically prevented their careers because they were women, and the trials are scheduled to go on trial next December.
Last December, Blackburn, Salk's first female president, announced that she would leave the institute after two. The news came the same week when the National Academy of Sciences asked Verma, as editor-in-chief of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences until the clarification of the issues raised by the lawsuits was named by name in two of the three suits because it blocked the promotion and funding of women at the Institute.
The profile of the salk remains high. On Friday night, former vice president Joe Bid en was at the institute highlighting the launch of a Salk cancer research initiative.