In the Name of Science, Biden to Bring a Big WH First

Eric Lander will be Joe Biden's science adviser, and it'll be a Cabinet-level position
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 16, 2021 9:00 AM CST
In the Name of Science, Biden to Bring a Big WH First
Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health on Dec. 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Md.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

President-elect Joe Biden says "science will always be at the forefront of my administration," and he's elevating the post of science adviser to Cabinet level, a White House first. Biden, who planned to introduce his team Saturday, said the scientists "will ensure everything we do is grounded in science, facts, and the truth," per the AP. Eric Lander, a pioneer in mapping the human genome—the "book of life"—is in line to be the adviser on science, and the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. He would be the first life scientist to have that White House job. Lander is the founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and was the lead author of the first paper announcing the details of the human genome. Biden also said on Friday he's retaining the director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, who worked with Lander on the human genome project.

Lander, also a mathematician, is a professor of biology at both Harvard and MIT, and his work has been cited nearly half a million times in scientific literature, one of the most among scientists. He has won numerous science prizes, including a MacArthur "genius" fellowship and a Breakthrough Prize, and he's one of Pope Francis' scientific advisers. In an email statement, Collins calls Lander "brilliant, visionary, exceptionally creative, and highly effective in aspiring others." "I predict he will have a profound transformational effect on American science," Collins says. Lander's job will require Senate confirmation. Biden is also naming two prominent female scientists to co-chair the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology: Frances Arnold, a Caltech chemical engineer who won the 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry, and Maria Zuber, an MIT vice president for research and geophysics professor.

(More Biden administration stories.)

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