(NewsNation Now) — President-elect Joe Biden announced key members of his science team Friday, including pioneering geneticist Dr. Eric Lander as the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, elevating the post to Cabinet-level status for first time.
Biden nominated Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, who was the lead author of the first paper announcing the details of the human genome. He is the first life scientist to have that role.
Lander, 63, will succeed meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier, who was named director by President Donald Trump in 2019 after the role was left vacant for nearly two years.
Biden formally introduced the team Saturday in an address from Wilmington, Delaware.
“We believe in science and truth. We think it’s that important,” Biden said.
He said he’s asked the science team to focus on five key areas of improvement: the coronavirus pandemic, economic recovery, confronting the climate crisis, technology and innovation, and restoring the long-term trust of science in the nation.
“Science will always be at the forefront of my administration — and these world-renowned scientists will ensure everything we do is grounded in science, facts, and the truth,” Biden said in a statement.
The president-elect also said he is retaining National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, who worked with Lander on the human genome project. Biden has also selected Dr. Maria Zuber and Dr. Frances H. Arnold to co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
The job as director of science and technology policy requires Senate confirmation.
Science organizations were eager to praise Lander and the promotion of the science post.
“Elevating [the science adviser] role to member in the President’s Cabinet clearly signals the administration’s intent to involve scientific expertise in every policy discussion,” said Sudip Parikh, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society.
Biden chose Princeton’s Alondra Nelson, a social scientist who studies science, technology and social inequality, as deputy science policy chief. Kei Koizumi will also serve as OSTP Chief of Staff and Narda Jones as OSTP Legislative Affairs Director.
Biden has pledged to increase funding in U.S. research and development, including medical research and clean energy.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.