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Step Toward Being Able to Oust Members

In an initial vote at its annual meeting, US National Academy of Sciences approved an amendment that would allow it to expel those who violate its new code of conduct, the Verge reports.

In a statement, the academy says the amendment "would permit the NAS Council to rescind membership for the most egregious violations to a new Code of Conduct." That code of conduct, which was approved late last year, calls on members to not only perform their scientific work with integrity, but to also treat others with respect.

This comes about a year after sexual harassment allegations were made against Inder Verma, who was then at the Salk Institute and the editor-in-chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Verma subsequently resigned from the Salk and as editor-in-chief of PNAS. But the National Academy of Sciences said at the time it was unable to expel him, as it has no mechanism to do so.

"I think it sends a positive signal for accountability and says to the community that even this very prestigious coveted membership is not for everybody," Yale University's Akiko Iwasaki, a new NAS member, says of the vote at Nature News.

The Verge adds, though, that the full NAS membership still needs to consider the measure in a final vote, which it says should be complete by mid-June.