Senate confirms geneticist Eric Lander as Biden science adviser – Times of India

Washington: The Senate has confirmed geneticist Eric Lander as the chief science adviser to President Joe Biden, one of the last vacant cabinet positions in the Biden administration.
Lander, the founding director of MIT and Harvard’s Broad Institute, was approved by voice vote Friday to serve as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, a position Biden has elevated to cabinet rank. Lander, who is also a mathematician and molecular biologist, was the lead author of the first paper to announce the details of the human genome, the so-called “book of life”.
His nomination was delayed for months as the senators asked for more information about his meetings with the late Jeffrey Epstein, a notorious financier who had been accused of sexual trafficking before his apparent suicide. Lander was also criticized for underestimating the contributions of two Nobel laureate women scientists.
At his confirmation hearing last month, Lander apologized for a 2016 article in which he wrote that the work of women scientists had been curtailed. During the hearing, he also called Epstein a “hateful person”.
Lander said he “understood the importance of those important advances” by biochemists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna. Both were later awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
“I felt really bad about it, I made a mistake. And when I make a mistake, I own it and try to do better,” Lander said. “I should have written those paragraphs differently to clarify my intentions. I have a lot of respect for Doctor Doudna and Charpentier and the important work he has done throughout his career.”
In 2012, he met Epstein only twice, Lander said, and never requested or received funding from Epstein or his foundation.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat who chaired the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said at a May 20 committee meeting that she wished Biden had nominated a woman as a science adviser, but Lander called women and minorities Had pledged to work to elevate it. In science.
Lander said in a statement Friday that the upgrade to Biden’s science post “made it clear that science and technology will be central to solving the nation’s most urgent challenges, including health, environmental quality, and justice for all Americans” . ”
Biden’s cabinet is almost complete with Lander’s confirmation. The only remaining vacant cabinet post is that of the Office of Management and Director of Budget. Shalanda Young has served as acting OMB director since her confirmation as deputy director. Neera Tandon withdrew her nomination for OMB chief as several senators said they would not vote for her.

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