E&C Republicans Signal Intent to Issue Subpoenas to Obtain Information on NIH’s Handling of Sexual Harassment if Questions Go Unanswered

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), on behalf of the Oversight Subcommittee Republicans, wrote to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Acting Director Lawrence Tabak.

The letter outlines:

  • The NIH’s inadequate cooperation with the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the NIH’s handling of sexual harassment 
  • The Committee’s intent to use compulsory measures absent adequate responses to their previous requests  
  • A formal notice to preserve all existing and future records related to the letter  

Notably, the letter also states, given reporting coupled with the lack of cooperation, the Committee is broadening its investigation from the NIH’s handling of sexual harassment complaints involving NIH grantees to now include complaints involving NIH scientists. 


“You wrote that ‘[w]herever NIH research activities take place, our priority will always be to do what we can to eliminate harassment and ensure that the integrity of scientific endeavor is never compromised by the fundamental injustice of workplace harassment.’ Unfortunately, your stated aspirations have not been reflected in the National Institutes of Health’s responses to our inquiry on NIH’s handling of sexual harassment complaints.” 


“According to the Office of Director Congressional Justification Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, ‘NIH has long prioritized supporting a safe and respectful workplace, free from harassment and discrimination, wherever NIH-funded research is conducted.’ In support of this goal, NIH’s efforts at ending harassment in all its forms focused on three primary areas, including 'demonstrating accountability and transparency.' Ironically, NIH’s inadequate handling and dilatory tactics in response to our investigation seems to demonstrate a lack of accountability and transparency about its actions to end harassment ‘wherever NIH-funded research is conducted.’ […] A recent case where it was alleged that NIH failed to stop ‘pass the harasser’ also suggests that NIH is not meeting its goal on a priority issue.” 

CLICK HERE to read the full letter. 

CLICK HERE to read the Chairs’ March 14, 2023, letter. 

CLICK HERE to read the Chairs’ August 11, 2022, letter.  

CLICK HERE to read from Science: "NIH rules are supposed to stop ‘pass the harasser.’ In one recent case, they appear to have failed." 

CLICK HERE to read from STAT: “I’ve seen the culture of sexual harassment at NIH. The agency needs to do more than simply apologize.” 

CLICK HERE to read from Science: “NIH administrator resigned after sexual misconduct probe.”