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Biden Has Elevated the Job of Science Adviser. Is That What Science Needs?


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Eric S. Lander, President Biden's choice for a cabinet-level science advisory role.

The delay in confirming Eric S. Lander as President Biden's science advisor has led to concerns that the role is more symbolic than substantive.

Credit: Amr Alfiky/The New York Times

On the campaign trail, Joseph R. Biden Jr. vowed to unseat Donald J. Trump and bring science back to the White House, the federal government and the nation after years of presidential attacks and disavowals, neglect and disarray.

As president-elect, he got off to a fast start in January by nominating Eric S. Lander, a top biologist, to be his science adviser. He also made the job a cabinet-level position, calling its elevation part of his effort to "reinvigorate our national science and technology strategy."

In theory, the enhanced post could make Dr. Lander one of the most influential scientists in American history.

But his Senate confirmation hearing was pushed off for three months The slow pace, according to Politico, arose in part from questions about his meetings in 2012 with Jeffrey Epstein, the financier who had insinuated himself among the scientific elite despite a 2008 conviction that had labeled him as a sex offender.

From The New York Times
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