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NSF tallies 16 cases of alleged harassment by grantees in first year of new rules – Science (Jeffrey Mervis | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 25, 2020

It’s been 1 year since the National Science Foundation (NSF) implemented a new policy governing when universities must tell it about possible sexual harassment by grantees. Despite adopting a narrow definition of who is covered, agency officials say they are surprised by how many notifications—16 to date—they have received.

Let’s be clear, such harassment is completely unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.  It is also vitally important to pick up that institutions promote a culture that prevents this, but also that allegations need to substantiated as campuses could become rife with the so-called ‘cancel’ culture that could see false allegations due to competition for funding.

The rules apply only to researchers who received an award after 22 October 2018 or a recent amendment to an earlier award, and kick in only when an institution takes what is called an “administrative action.” That could range from monitoring someone’s behavior to banning the alleged perpetrator from campus. Institutions must also notify NSF of the final decision in a harassment investigation involving an NSF grantee, the end of a process that can drag on for years.

If followed by institutions, the notification rules should reduce the chances that the agency is blindsided by media reports of current grantees who are found guilty of harassment. But the rules will not create a database of all sexual harassment investigations at NSF-funded institutions, nor was that NSF’s intention. Rather, the rule addresses NSF’s obligation to ensure a “safe and secure” research environment at places where it is spending money.

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When medical information comes from Nazi atrocities (Papers: Susan E Mackinnon | January 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on March 10, 2020

The nerve surgeon Susan Mackinnon discovered that an old but precise textbook she relied on was created by a Viennese anatomist who had dissected Hitler’s victims to produce his detailed illustrations. Should we still be using the illustrations, she asks

I first met the Atlas of Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy1 in 1982, when I was 32, during my hand fellowship at the Curtis National Hand Center in Baltimore. The atlas became my dissection partner during the many long hours spent in the anatomy laboratory at Johns Hopkins Hospital and later at the University of Toronto.


Also see:
Response to Medical information from Nazi atrocities transgresses the Nuremberg Code by Simon Gordon, Thomas Kadas, Peter Lantos and Afsana Safa


For several years, I knew the Pernkopf atlas (named after its author, Eduard Pernkopf, chair of anatomy and president of the University of Vienna) only as a unique and valued piece of science and art. However, in the late 1980s, I came across essays by Gerald Weissman, an Austrian born US physician-scientist at New York University, and David Williams, a medical illustrator of Purdue University, Indiana, exposing the origin of my dissection partner,23 calling it the “atlas of the Shoah,” derived during the Holocaust.

Once I, a gentile, came to know the truth of its origin, my attitude changed. I secured the atlas in my operative room locker, with printed copies of Weissman’s and Williams’s essays slipped into the atlas as a marker to anyone who might use it and a warning to “enter with caution.”

However, having already spent many years with the atlas, still the most detailed anatomy book I’ve ever seen, I continued to feel the need to refer to it occasionally for the sake of improving my patients’ surgical outcomes. Several times a month, while operating, I would struggle with the anatomical nuances of nerve pathways. The atlas showed me the way—an exact and safe surgical approach to the …

Mackinnon, S. E. (2020) When medical information comes from Nazi atrocities BMJ 368:l7075

(US) US biomedical agency has investigated hundreds claims of inappropriate conduct this year – Nature (Nidhi Subbaraman | December 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on February 22, 2020

The director of the US National Institutes of Health says the agency will begin revising its policies on harassment next year.

Nearly 40% of women trainees polled by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) between January and March 2019 reported being sexually harassed at work.

NIH is to be commended for this plan.  We need other funding bodies and institutions to make similar moves.  Sexual harassment in research is unacceptable, should be considered research misconduct and we shouldn’t be lauding the achievements of harassers.

Those are the results of a staff survey delivered to NIH director Francis Collins and a panel of his advisers on 12 December. It identified young women, people from sexual and gender minorities and those with disabilities as those most vulnerable to harassment.

The elite panel also reviewed a long-awaited report commissioned by the NIH that charged the agency to work rapidly stop sexual harassment in science labs. But agency watchers who have pressed the NIH to act for more than a year were left without a clear timeline for changes.

“It’s no longer time to consider — it’s time to act,” says Scout, deputy director of the US National LGBT Cancer Network and a member of the Working Group on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment, which prepared the report.

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Friday afternoon’s funny – Reasons for refusal0

Posted by Admin in on February 21, 2020

Cartoon by Don Mayne
Full-size image for printing (right mouse click and save file)

In all seriousness, there may be much to be learned from having a mechanism to explore why people decide not to participate in a project.  Of course they must be free not to provide their reasons.