Getty Images | Jim Watson

Biden To Elevate White House Science Post To Cabinet Level For First Time Ever

President-Elect Joe Biden has named geneticist Eric Lander as the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy after elevating the White House post to Cabinet-level status for the first time in history.

According to a press release, Lander will be tasked with providing the Biden-Harris administration recommendations on how they can best "harness the full power of science and technology on behalf of the American people" after inheriting a global health crisis.

On Friday, Biden announced Lander's new position, as well as several other key members who have been added to the White House science team.

As Biden said in a statement,

"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. Their trusted guidance will be essential as we come together to end this pandemic, bring our economy back, and pursue new breakthroughs to improve the quality of life of all Americans."

In a letter Biden wrote to Lander, he describes his aspirations for the new director's responsibilities.

That letter references former President Franklin Roosevelt, who Biden explains wrote a letter to his science advisor in 1944 after the end of World War II. In that particular correspondence, Roosevelt wondered how science and technology could "best be applied to benefit the nation's health, economic prosperity, and national security."

In response, his advisor, Dr. Vannevar Bush, penned the report Science—the Endless Frontier, which utlimately set the course for science discovery in American for the next 75 years.

In his letter to Lander, Biden tasks him and his team with providing a new strategy, essentially setting a course for the *next* 75 years of scientific discovery.

Unsplash | Michael Longmire

Biden also asks Lander to consider five main questions in his pursuit, including what can be learned from the pandemic, how scientific and technologic breakthroughs can influence climate change and economic growth, and also how America can ensure it is a leader in technologies, particularly while in competition with China.

"I believe that the answers to these questions will be instrumental in helping our nation embark on a new path in the years ahead—a path of dignity and respect, of prosperity and security, of progress and common purpose," Biden finishes the letter. "They are big questions, to be sure, but not as big as America’s capacity to address them."

In addition to Lander's new elevated post, other science team members were also announced by Biden on Friday.

Dr. Alondra Nelson, whose work focuses on science, technology, social inequality, and race, will serve as deputy director for science and society.

Additionally, Dr. Frances H. Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber will serve as the external co-chairs of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

h/t: Press Release