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WASHINGTON — An early sign that trouble was afoot in the White House science office came last November, when roughly a dozen of Eric Lander’s staff formed a “culture committee” aimed at improving morale.

The group’s first action, five aides told STAT, was to create a “word cloud” depicting the adjectives they most often used to describe the work environment at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Of the dozens of words submitted, three in particular stood out: “hostile,” “siloed,” and “aggressive.”


Three months later, Lander resigned as President Biden’s science adviser, after Politico reported a White House investigation that found “credible evidence” that he had violated workplace conduct rules.

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