WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has confirmed geneticist Eric Lander to be President Joe Biden’s chief science adviser, one of the last unfilled Cabinet posts in the Biden administration.
Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, was approved by a voice vote Friday to serve as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, a position Biden has elevated to Cabinet rank. Lander, who also is a mathematician and molecular biologist, was lead author of the first paper announcing the details of the human genome, the so-called “book of life.”
His nomination was delayed for months as senators sought more information about meetings he had with the late Jeffrey Epstein, a disgraced financier who was charged with sex trafficking before his apparent suicide. Lander also was criticized for downplaying the contributions of two Nobel Prize-winning female scientists.
At his confirmation hearing last month, Lander apologized for a 2016 article he wrote that downplayed the work of the female scientists. At the hearing, he also called Epstein “an abhorrent individual.’’
Lander said he “understated the importance of those key advances’’ by biochemists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna. The two were later awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
“I felt terrible about it, I made a mistake. And when I make a mistake, I own it and try to do better,’’ Lander said.