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Biden names Francis Collins and Alondra Nelson to act as White House science leadership

The appointments come after former advisor Eric Lander resigned over bullying claims

by Andrea Widener
February 17, 2022


Two side-by-side head and sholders photos of Alondra Nelson and Francis Collins. Both are wearing suits
Credit: Biden-Harris Transition (Nelson) and NIH (Collins)
Alondra Nelson (left) and Francis Collins

The White House has named acting leaders for the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the role of science advisor to the president.

Current OSTP deputy director Alondra Nelson will serve as acting director of that office. Former National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins will become acting science advisor and acting co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Both Nelson and Collins will serve “until permanent leadership is nominated and confirmed,” the White House says in a statement.

This scientific reshuffle at the White House comes after former science adviser and OSTP director Eric Lander resigned after a White House investigation found that he had created a hostile work environment. His last day is Feb. 18.

“The selections are responsive to the dual importance of a strong OSTP that can drive science and technology solutions to our greatest challenges—and the very specific attention the President wants to give” to several of his scientific priorities, including creation of an advanced research projects agency-health (ARPA-H), his Cancer Moonshot 2.0, the search for a new head of the NIH, and the advisory work of PCAST.

A sociologist, Nelson is the first person to serve as deputy director for science and society at OSTP. While at the office she oversaw development of a report that recommended expanding the definition of scientific integrity in government. Collins served as director of the NIH for 12 years, until he stepped down in December. He will continue running his research lab at NIH.



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