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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Biden announces two new White House tech policy leaders

U.S. President Joe Biden announced two new tech policy appointments to White House positions this week: Dr. Alondra Nelson as leader of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Dr. Francis Collins as science advisor to the President as well as temporary co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

Nelson, who was also named Deputy Assistant to the President, will focus her work at OSTP on clean energy investments, a people’s Bill of Rights for automated technologies, a national strategy for STEM equity, the appointment of the nation’s Chief Technology Officer, data-driven guidance for implementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and programs to bring tech talent to the United States.

She previously served as deputy director of the newly-created OSTP Science and Society Division, where she led efforts to support US research infrastructure and several directives issued early in Biden’s first year. Nelson is also a professor at Princeton University and was previously the Dean of Social Science at Columbia University. 

Nelson told OSTP’s 150-person staff that their mission is to maximize the benefits of science and technology to advance health, prosperity, security, environmental quality, and justice for all Americans. 

“Commitment number one is to our people — the devoted civil and public servants who work at OSTP. We should never lose sight of how lucky we each are to work with such dedicated, passionate, brilliant colleagues every day. We have incredibly high aspirations for what science and technology in America should be, but it really begins with all of us. That’s why I’m committed to making sure OSTP is a model for the science and technology ecosystem we envision for the nation — to making us a mirror of the possibilities we hope to achieve in policy,” Nelson said. 

“The second commitment is to the President and the bold goals he’s set for our country: to be ready for the next pandemic; to end cancer as we know it today; to map the path to net-zero emissions; to preserve our planet; to build equity into everything we do; to remain the global leader in science and technology; to having scientists at every table; and so much more. We’ve been hard at work on all of this across OSTP, and I’m committed to making sure we keep it up and get the job done.”

The third commitment focused on concrete efforts to improve healthcare and access to clean water. 

Collins will work as one of three co-chairs of the PCAST. His main tasks will involve helping choose a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director nominee and pushing Congress to authorize the launch of ARPA-H. 

Collins himself spent 12 years as director of the NIH — the longest of any presidentially-appointed director of NIH — and is well-known for his involvement in the discovery of disease genes. 

“In elevating two of the nation’s preeminent research leaders to key White House roles, the President reasserted the central role of science, technology, and innovation in confronting the nation’s most pressing challenges,” The White House said.

“Collins and Nelson will also work together on safeguarding international collaboration in science and restoring trust in science and government during this critical time in history.”

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