UW Ebola researcher investigated for sexual harassment, misuse of funds

BuzzFeed News reported this week that a prominent University of Washington researcher was investigated by the university and the School of medicine for violating the school’s sexual harassment policies and for misusing funds.

Michael Katze, the head of the Katze Lab in the UW’s Department of Microbiology, has been put on “home assignment” since the sexual harassment investigation, according to a university statement and Buzzfeed reports that a panel is looking into whether he can be fired.

Katz, who headed his lab for 30 years, has been a respected researcher, bringing in $30 million in grants and making frequent media appearances speaking about the flu and Ebola. The Seattle Globalist also talked to researchers from the Katze lab during the Ebola outbreak in 2014.

BuzzFeed’s in-depth report this week documents the investigation into Katze’s behavior towards two female employees. One of the employees told university investigators she wrote to escort services and posted a personal ad on Craigslist on his behalf. That employee introduced him to the second woman, who he then hired for his lab as an administrator, and who accompanied him on national and international business trips.

BuzzFeed reporter Azeen Ghorayshi documented text exchanges between Katze and the women, which implied that Katze was holding the second woman’s job and perks over her head in exchange for sex and intimacy. He also paid the two women higher salaries than the university standard, funding the salaries through Katze’ federal grants.

Other lab employees described verbally abusive behavior and a fear of retaliation because previous complaints about his behavior had little consequences. The Katze Lab was closed in April, BuzzFeed reported.

Read more: Buzzfeed: “He Thinks He’s Untouchable