President-elect Barack Obama has named four scientists who will lead his science and technology team, choosing experts in climate change, cancer, and genetic research to chair the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).
"Whether it's the science to slow global warming; the technology to protect our troops and confront bioterror and weapons of mass destruction; the research to find life-saving cures; or the innovations to remake our industries and create 21st century jobs, today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation," Obama said in his weekly radio address Saturday.
Obama named John Holdren co-chair of PCAST, as well as assistant to the president for science and technology, and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. As president and director of the Woods Hole Research Center, which puts forth policy and science initiatives on climate change and other environmental issues, Holdren is a leading voice on climate change issues.
Holdren is also director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and was a member of Bill Clinton's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. Since 2002, he has co-chaired the National Commission on Energy Policy.
Obama also named genetic researcher Harold Varmus to co-chair PCAST. Varmus won a Nobel Prize in 1989 for his discoveries relating to the genetic basis of cancer, and he served as the director of the National Institutes of Health from 1993 to 1999. Since 2000, he has served as president and CEO of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. As chairman of the board of directors for the Public Library of Science, Varmus has advocated for the open access of biomedical papers.
Eric Lander, one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project, was also named as a co-chair of PCAST. In 1990, Lander founded the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research, which is now part of the Broad Institute. Lander is a biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as Harvard Medical School.
Obama is nominating Jane Lubchenco, a marine biologist from Oregon State University, to serve as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lubchenco's areas of expertise include climate change and sustainability science, and she was a two-term appointee to the National Science Board, which advises the president and Congress. She is past president of the International Council for Science and is a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.