On the heels of exposé revealing 'demeaning' conduct, Eric Lander resigns from White House's top science perch
Eric Lander — the renowned but controversial geneticist whom President Biden tapped to bring science to his administration’s forefront — has resigned as director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy following the publication of an investigation that revealed he had demeaned and disrespected subordinates, thereby violating workplace policies.
The first top science advisor to be elevated to Cabinet level, Lander has been involved in multiple areas including climate science, energy research, pandemic response and, most recently, the Cancer Moonshot.
“The president accepted Dr. Eric Lander’s resignation letter this evening with gratitude” for his work, Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, said in a statement. “He knows that Dr. Lander will continue to make important contributions to the scientific community in the years ahead.”
Politico dropped a bombshell report Monday revealing that an internal investigation, spurred by a complaint by the chief operating officer of the OSTP, found “credible evidence of instances of multiple women having complained to other staff about negative interactions with Dr. Lander, where he spoke to them in a demeaning or abrasive way in front of other staff.”
Multiple former and current staffers of the office corroborated those claims in interviews with Politico, which conducted its own investigation. Collectively, they described a toxic work environment where Lander frequently bullied, disparaged and talked to colleagues in an abrasive and sometimes humiliating manner.
Rachel Wallace, the COO who first filed a complaint, added Lander retaliated against staff for speaking out. During Lander’s tenure, she was demoted from general counsel to deputy counsel.
The White House initially stood by Lander who, in an apparent attempt to preempt the Politico report, sent an apology email to his entire staff on Friday acknowledging he failed to live up to his responsibility to “set a respectful tone” for the community and saying he was “deeply sorry.”
As a follow-up, the White House said corrective actions and new policies were applied.