Sat. Oct 1st, 2022
23andMe Co-Founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki President & Founding Director Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard Professor Eric Lander will speak onstage at the TIME 100 Health Summit in 2019.
enlarge 23andMe Co-Founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki President & Founding Director Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard Professor Eric Lander will speak onstage at the TIME 100 Health Summit in 2019.

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At the height of last October’s presidential election, President Trump warned voters that if Joe Biden were elected president, he would “listen to the scientists.” With the president-elect on the brink of being inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States, Biden appears to be leaning into this line of attack.

On Friday, the incoming Biden administration announced it would appoint Eric Lander as director of the Office of Science Technology and Policy. As usual in this role, Lander will also serve as chief “scientific adviser” to the president. In addition, Biden announced that he is making the science advisor a cabinet-level position. This is a first for this role.

“Science will always be at the forefront of my administration — and these world-renowned scientists will ensure that everything we do is based on science, facts and the truth,” President-elect Biden said in a press release announcing the appointments.

Lander, a geneticist with a background in mathematics, was one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project and is a professor of biology at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School. From 2009 to 2017, he served as co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology for President Obama. Alondra Nelson, chair of the Social Science Research Council, will be the deputy director of the Bureau of Science and Society.

Biden’s announcement also appointed co-chairs for the presidential council of advisers, who inform the president about public policy on a broad segment of science and technology issues. The council will be led by Maria Zuber, a geophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has been involved in more than half a dozen NASA planetary missions, and Frances Arnold, a chemical engineer and Nobel laureate from the California Institute of Technology.

dr. Francis Collins will continue to serve as director of the National Institutes of Health.

The Biden administration’s appointment of an early-stage science team suggests it will prioritize science and evidence-based decision-making toward policy. By contrast, after President Trump entered the White House in January 2017, the position of director of the Office of Science Technology and Policy remained vacant for nearly two years. At that time, the workforce declined. Finally, in August 2018, the Trump administration nominated Oklahoma survey meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier — who is respected in the scientific community — to fill the position. He formally took office in January 2019.

Naming science and technology leadership is an important step toward filling other roles in the Biden administration, including NASA administrator. An announcement of a replacement for Jim Bridenstine, who will step down on January 20 when President Trump leaves office, could come in a few weeks.

By akfire1

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