Building support for the Cancer Moonshot reignition, President Joe Biden appointed temporary leaders to streamline the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s (OSTP’s) agenda of creating the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. Alondra Nelson, PhD, will serve as OSTP director and Francis Collins, MD, PhD, as science advisor to the president and co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology until permanent leaders are in place. Biden made the appointments in February 2022 after Eric Lander, his science advisor who also served as OSTP director, announced his resignation from the role.
According to the White House, Nelson “currently serves as the inaugural deputy director for science and society in OSTP, where she brings social science expertise, including attention to issues of social inequality, explicitly into the work of federal science and technology strategy and policy.” Nelson is the Harold F. Linder Chair and a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, and was president of the Social Science Research Council from 2017–2020.
The longest-serving presidentially appointed director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Collins is “noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project,” according to the White House. Collins stepped down as NIH director in 2021 but still runs a research lab at the agency.
“My commitment is to the possibilities, the potential of science and technology to improve people’s lives: To deliver more healthcare access and less healthcare inequity. To deliver clean water for everybody, fresh air for everybody, and a bountiful planet for everybody. To build a society where everyone can live with equal dignity and hope and opportunity, as well as equal safety and security,” Nelson said.