Inder Verma in a lab at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in 2012.

Tribune Content Agency LLC/Alamy Stock Photo

Accused cancer scientist resigns as editor of prestigious journal

Inder Verma, the prominent cancer scientist and geneticist who has been accused of sexual harassment by several women, resigned yesterday as editor-in-chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a prestigious academic journal.

Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington, D.C., which publishes PNAS, announced Verma’s departure in an email to NAS members today:

Yesterday Dr. Verma informed me that he has resigned as Editor-in-Chief. In view of Dr. Verma’s resignation and to ensure that PNAS has leadership in place to move the journal forward, we will soon initiate the search to identify his successor and would welcome your suggestions.

Verma’s resignation from the editorship came 5 days after Science published a feature article describing allegations by eight women who said that Verma sexually harassed them—accusations he has strongly denied. The alleged incidents stretched from 1976 to 2016, nearly the whole of Verma’s career at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California, where he was hired in 1974.

Salk suspended Verma on 20 April, 2 days after receiving a list of questions from Science concerning Verma’s alleged harassment of several of the women. At that time, the institute also broadened an investigation of Verma that began in March, when Salk hired a San Diego law firm, The Rose Group, to probe allegations against Verma.

Verma has been on leave as editor-in-chief of PNAS since this past December, when the NAS Council asked him to step aside until issues arising from gender discrimination lawsuits filed last summer by three senior female scientists at Salk were resolved. Two of the lawsuits accused Verma of impeding female scientists’ career advancement at Salk. The lawsuits are set to come to trial in December.

McNutt said in a statement provided to Science recently: “We put Dr. Verma on leave given the discrimination lawsuits at Salk, which were public and provided the basis for our decision. It was important to avoid a situation where someone named in a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination could be in a position to influence publication decisions at PNAS.”