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"Larger Role"

The US National Institutes of Health needs to do more to combat sexual harassment, Director Francis Collins tells PBS NewsHour.

Last June, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a report that found that efforts to address sexual harassment in sciences have been ineffective. Collins responded in September that reading the report was "disheartening" and said NIH would be updating its sexual harassment policies and make it easier for breaches to be reported. He more recently this month apologized for the agency's handling of sexual harassment after an internal review criticized it and said the agency would try "to do better."

Collins tells PBS NewsHour that the culture of the science needs to change so that such behavior is not tolerated. That, he adds, can be addressed in part by elevating women to greater leadership roles as well as through enforcement of harassment policies.

"So, we have decided… to basically play a larger role in identifying instances [of harassment] and acting upon them," Collins says.

NewsHour's William Brangham notes that Collins has spent his career in the sciences and asks if these findings were surprising to him. "As a male working in this male-dominated arena, I had observed, but not personally taken responsibility for doing something about it at the level that I now feel I should," Collins says, adding that he hopes more men take responsibility for fixing the situation.