White House science adviser and former Broad Institute director Eric Lander apologizes for mistreating staff

Dr. Eric Lander standing outside the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, which he led before joining President Biden’s administration. A White House review found credible evidence that Lander violated its “Safe and Respectful Workplace Policy.” (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A White House review found credible evidence that top scientist Dr. Eric Lander violated its “Safe and Respectful Workplace Policy,” but the administration plans to keep him on the job after giving him counseling.

Lander left his position as founding director and president of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, based in Cambridge, to join the White House.

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An internal review last year, prompted by a workplace complaint, found evidence that Lander, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and science adviser to President Joe Biden, bullied staffers and treated them disrespectfully. That put him at odds with Biden’s day-one directive that he expected “honesty and decency” from all who worked for his administration and would fire anyone who shows disrespect to others “on the spot.”

The White House said senior administration officials had met with Lander about his actions and management of the office. It said Lander and OSTP are required to take certain corrective actions as part of the review.

“White House leadership met with Dr. Lander to discuss the seriousness of the matter and the President’s expectation that all staff interactions be conducted with respect,” the White House said. “We take this incredibly seriously and we are taking swift action to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

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