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Top Cancer Researcher Resigns From Salk Institute

Inder Verma, one of the world's leading authorities on gene therapy and cancer who was under investigation following sexual harassment allegations, has resigned from his position with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

The Salk Board of Trustees met Monday to go over the findings of an internal investigation launched in April

Science magazine had asked for an interview with Salk officials regarding sexual harassment allegations against Verma.

Women at Salk warned female colleagues not to be alone with Verma, Meredith Wadman reported in the Science magazine article.

She spoke with female employees of the institute who described Verma's alleged behavior at company functions including one incident when he walked up behind a colleague and grabbed her breasts. 

Verma denied the allegations raised in the Science magazine article.

"Based on the findings of the investigator, the Institute has considered appropriate responsive action," Chair of the Board of Trustees Dan Lewis said in a written statement.

In the week before the board meeting, Verma had "tendered his unconditional resignation," Lewis said.

Verma is one of the leading experts on research to fight brain tumors and lung diseases. He held a position of authority with promotions, hirings and funding decisions within the Salk Insititute.

"This has been a challenging time for the Institute. We have been heartened by the way the Salk community has come together and worked together to face these challenges," Lewis said.

In December, Elizabeth Blackburn announced she would retire from her position as president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the face of gender discrimination lawsuits filed against the research facility. 

Three female Salk professors filed lawsuits alleging gender discrimination when it comes to access to grants as well as salaries and promotions.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Verma was placed on leave as editor of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences because of the lawsuits and the allegations over how the center treats women.

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