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PNAS Editor-in-Chief Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

Inder Verma has resigned as the editor-in-chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science reports.

His resignation on Tuesday comes less than a week after Science reported eight women accused Verma, who is also a professor and cancer research scientist at the Salk Institute, of sexual harassment. Verma has strongly denied the accusations.

The Salk also suspended Verma in April and hired a San Diego law firm to investigate the allegations against Verma.

His resignation from PNAS is the latest fallout in the scientific community in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Other scientists who have been accused of sexual harassment include University of California, Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy who reportedly harassed students for decades without any retribution. In August, the University of Washington fired a tenured professor of microbiology, Michael Katze, following an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and the misuse of funds.

Earlier this year, the US National Science Foundation announced new rules requiring institutions to report incidents of sexual harassment involving researchers funded by the foundation, and this past February, a US congressional subcommittee held a hearing on sexual harassment and misconduct in science.

On Thursday, the Wellcome Trust also said that researchers who are sanctioned by their institutions for harassment of any kind or bullying could risk losing funding from the organization.

In the case of Verma, his alleged past behavior came back to haunt him last summer when three female scientists at the Salk filed lawsuits alleging gender discrimination, Science says. In December, the National Academy of Sciences, the publisher of PNAS, asked him to step aside from the publication until the resolution of those matters.

NAS President Marcia McNutt announced Varma's departure to its members on Thursday. A search for his successor will soon begin, she said.