The U.S. Senate today verified mathematician and geneticist Eric Lander as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Lander will likewise act as President Joe Biden’s science advisor and hold a seat in Biden’s Cabinet.
Lander, 64, has actually long held popular functions in U.S. research study and science policy. He was president and founding director of the Broad Institute, which is collectively run by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology for 8 years under former President Barack Obama, where he worked carefully with Obama science advisor John Holdren, and communicated with Biden, who was vice president. Lander likewise co-led the general public Human Genome Project to the conclusion of an initial draft in 2001.
Biden’s election of Lander, announced in January, drew combined responses from the research study neighborhood. Many were pleased with the choice, stating Lander has the background and experience to be a smart operator within the White House. Others, nevertheless, slammed the choice, keeping in mind that Lander had a history of dispute with other scientists and had actually been slammed for, to name a few things, minimizing the function of 2 female researchers in establishing the CRISPR gene-editing tool, and for openly toasting geneticist James Watson, the co-discoverer of DNA, regardless of Watson’s history of racist and misogynistic remarks. Some were dissatisfied that Biden picked a white male for the post and stated he must have chosen a female or individual of color.
Those concerns—along with a number of conferences Lander held while leading the Broad Institute with Jeffrey Epstein, a financier and research study benefactor who had actually been founded guilty of sex offenses—obviously assisted postpone the Senate’s factor to consider of Lander’s election. When his verification hearing lastly was hung on 29 April, Lander excused minimizing the work of CRISPR leaders Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier in “Unsung Heroes of CRISPR,” a 2016 essay that appeared in Cell. “I made a mistake,” Lander stated. “I felt terrible.” He likewise safeguarded his conferences with Epstein, stating they were short which the Broad Institute never ever accepted contributions from the investor.
Lander won verification today on a voice vote.
As head of OSTP—and the very first OSTP director to rise to the Cabinet—Lander is anticipated to play an essential function beforehand the Biden administration’s research study program, that includes enhancing the federal function in environment modification research study and assisting the United States counter technological and clinical competitors from China.