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Does being a Bully get you further with the NIH? Lauer says NO!

Sep 14, 2022, 11:27 AM by Melodi Moore

In his September 14 Open Mike blog post titled Case Study in Research Integrity: You Can Disagree, Without Being Disagreeable, Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, addressed an increase in the number of cases of uncivil, hostile and abusive behavior from award recipients toward NIH program officers and other staff.  Citing real-life examples from conferences, emails and review committee meetings, Dr. Lauer outlined the process of what happens when NIH staff members feel they have been on the receiving end of intimidation, threats, or other disruptive and inappropriate behaviors. 

The accompanying graphic within the blog post lists the following as actions or behaviors that adversely impact agency operations and the ability of NIH staff to conduct "mission-critical work".

  • Rude Comments
  • Ridicule
  • Disrespectful Jokes or Insults
  • Inappropriate Yelling or Expletives
  • Excessive Emailing or Calling
  • Psychological Bullying
  • Intimidation
  • Threats against Others
  • Rude Gestures or Expressions

NIH staff members are encouraged to report such behaviors to  This office will review each notification and determine the following:

  • Is the person of concern a non-NIH staff, affiliated with an NIH-funded grant award or application, employed by a recipient institution, and/or involved with peer review service
  • Is there sufficient information to proceed, are more conversations and follow-up needed

Next, NIH will share all relevant information with the Vice President of Research and other appropriate leadership at the institution of the person of concern and they will have 30-days to respond and share what policies are in place that address this type of behavior and how the institution will respond.  NIH actions may include removal from peer review service, allowable grants management actions, contacting the NIH police and more.

Tagging the post as a research integrity issue, Dr. Lauer ends with the same words from Ruth Bader Ginsburg included in the title and reminds readers that everyone should remain respectful throughout the grants process.

The blog post allows readers to leave comments or ask questions.

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