Eric Lander to return to Broad Institute, one year after White House exit over bullying allegations
Eric Lander is returning to the Broad Institute, the prestigious genomic research center he helped launch and led for 16 years, a year after he resigned from the White House’s top science position following accusations of demeaning and disrespectful conduct toward subordinates.
Todd Golub, who succeeded Lander as Broad’s director, announced Lander’s return, early next month, on the institute’s intranet. Lander will also resume the tenured faculty positions he left behind at MIT and Harvard, Golub added.
When Joe Biden tapped Lander — one of the biggest names in science, having spearheaded the Human Genome Project and pioneered other areas of genetic research — to serve as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and elevated that office to Cabinet-level back in 2021, the president-elect used the appointment to pledge his promise that “science will be at the forefront” of his administration.
To serve in the government position, Lander took a two-year leave from Broad.
But his tenure lasted just a year. As revealed later, a whistleblower complaint from Lander’s former general counsel at OSTP sparked an internal investigation at the White House regarding how he treated his staff. Politico picked up on the investigation — which found “credible evidence” of women in the office complaining about being treated by Lander in a demeaning or abrasive manner in front of other staff — and reported, based on its own interviews with anonymous staffers, that Lander presided over a toxic workplace and bullied colleagues.
Without naming the probe or report, Golub acknowledged how Lander’s departure from Washington “stimulated important and often tough discussions” about academic culture and power dynamics, and said he’s been proud of how people at Broad (or “Broadies” as he calls them) have wrestled with those issues, while also working on pressing biomedical problems with scientific rigor.
“At Broad, we have high expectations for all Broadies to foster an inclusive culture of respect, regardless of role, stature, or identity,” he wrote. “Eric also deeply values this culture and is committed to upholding it.”
Lander will return to running his lab and assume the titles of core institute member and founding director emeritus at Broad; he has also been asked to “do what he does best: elevate Broadies’ science by helping us imagine what might be possible,” Golub added, and spend time outside of Broad building a nonprofit named Science for America, which Lander helped launch just a few months ago.