Cancer Research To Sanction Scientists Accused Of Bullying Colleagues

The charity says it will stop funding anyone accused of inappropriate behaviour.

Cancer Research UK could cut funding to scientists accused of bullying or harassing colleagues as part of a new policy.

The leading cancer charity said researchers who behave inappropriately face losing grants and being banned from supervising PhD students, The Guardian reported.

Universities and research institutions will be made to alert the charity about any live investigations into bullying and harassment, or risk facing sanctions if they fail to comply.

Iain Foulkes, executive director of innovation at CRUK, told the paper: “We will go as far as we need to go.

“If an institution doesn’t address what might be perceived as a cultural problem we wouldn’t want to be putting money into that institution.”

He added that movements such as #MeToo, which has brought to light cases of bullying, sexual harassment and abuse carried out by powerful individuals, made the organisation “question whether there was more we could do in research and science”.

In a further statement to HuffPost UK, Foulkes said: “As one of the largest charitable funders of cancer research in the world, we’ve always set expectations that organisations and researchers who receive our funding follow good research practice and create a positive research culture.

“Our new policy clarifies our expectations in relation to inappropriate behaviour, and now forms part of our grant conditions.

“We want our researchers to feel supported in fulfilling their potential in positive research environments, and importantly, to feel able to speak up if behaviour is inappropriate. Only by treating one another with dignity and respect, can we deliver research of the highest quality and achieve our goal of beating cancer.”

A list of Cancer Research grant conditions includes a “no misconduct” clause which means applicants must confirm there are no allegations of bullying or harassment upheld against them.

“CRUK reserves the right to reject the application or ask that the relevant individual(s) be removed from it,” the conditions read.

More than £310m was given out in grants to research institutions and individual scientists in 2017/18, the charity said in its latest annual report.

An investigation by The Guardian last month revealed hundreds of academics across 135 UK universities had been accused of bullying or harassment over the past five years.

In May, the Wellcome Trust announced that scientists who have been sanctioned by their institutions for harassment and bullying would lose out on funding.

The research-funding charity was the first major funder in the UK to implement the policy, following similar rules by the National Science Foundation in the US.

The move by Cancer Research follows a damning report by ex-judge Dame Laura Cox which blasted a culture of “deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence” in Parliament, which allowed abuse to thrive.