Indian-American cancer scientist facing allegations of “inappropriate conduct”

Vastavam web: A prominent Indian-American cancer and gene therapy scientist in the US has been placed on administrative leave following allegations of “inappropriate conduct” against him.Inder Verma, a cancer and gene therapy scientist at the prestigious Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation into the allegations against him.

The institute did not give any reason for suspending 70-year-old Verma, who is considered as one of the world’s leading authorities on gene therapy and cancer.”Recently, the institute became aware of allegations concerning Inder Verma. Consistent with Salk’s policies governing workplace conduct, the institute has undertaken a formal investigation that is being led by an independent outside party,” Dan Lewis, chairman of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies said in a statement.

Verma has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation. He will not be performing scientific or administrative roles on behalf of the institute during this period,” he said, without referring to the nature of the investigation.The action against Verma comes nearly four months after he was placed on temporary leave as editor of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a prestigious scientific journal.Verma told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the leave had stemmed from the lawsuits that Salk professors filed against the Institute in July.

Verma, 70, who is also on the boards of several Indian scientific institutes, has denied the allegations. “I have never used my position at the Salk Institute to take advantage of others. I have also never engaged in any sort of intimate relationship with anyone affiliated with the Salk Institute, he said in a statement to Science through his attorney.”I have never inappropriately touched, nor have I made any sexually charged comments, to anyone affiliated with the Salk Institute. I have never allowed any offensive or sexually charged conversations, jokes, material, etc. to occur at the Salk Institute, said Verma who earned his MSc in Biochemistry from the Lucknow University.