Top US biomedical institute settles gender-discrimination lawsuits

The Salk Institute has reached a deal with two of three female scientists who alleged unequal treatment.

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A view of an avenue at Salk, with trees either side and a figure in the distance. A quote by Salk is inscribed into the paving,

The Salk Institute settled two of three gender-discrimination lawsuits filed against it last year. Credit: EI/UIG/Getty

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies has settled a pair of gender-discrimination lawsuits brought last year by senior female scientists.

Cancer researchers Katherine Jones and Victoria Lundblad have agreed to drop all claims against the institute in La Jolla, California, according to a joint statement released on 7 August.

“In recent weeks the Institute’s leadership and Drs. Kathy Jones and Vicki Lundblad commenced discussions in hopes of resolving our disputes,” reads the statement signed by Jones, Lundblad and Salk’s president, neuroscientist Rusty Gage. “Those productive conversations have led to a resolution of all claims between these parties that will enable us to put our disagreements behind us.”

The statement does not provide any further information on the settlement, which the parties reached on 6 August. A spokesperson for the Salk Institute declined further comment on the matter, as did Deborah Dixon, the lawyer who represents Jones and Lundblad.

A third gender-discrimination lawsuit against the Salk Institute, filed last year by molecular biologist Beverly Emerson, is still pending. Emerson alleges that systemic bias at the institute hampered her access to research funding, laboratory space and other resources. In January, the Salk Institute declined to renew Emerson’s contract, ending her three-decade tenure there. (Jones and Lundblad are still on staff.)

Emerson’s lawyer, Alreen Haeggquist, says that her client opted out of settlement conversations with the Salk Institute. A court in San Diego, California, is scheduled to hold a hearing on Emerson’s case on 17 August.

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-05922-3

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