In a dig at the outgoing Trump administration, President-elect Joe Biden introduced his slate of scientific advisers Saturday with the promise that they would summon “science and truth” to combat the coronavirus pandemic, climate crisis and other challenges.
“This is the most exciting announcement I’ve gotten to make,” Biden said after weeks of Cabinet and other nominations and appointments. “This is a team that is going to help restore your faith in America’s place in the frontier of science and discovery.”
Biden is elevating the position of science adviser to Cabinet level, a White House first, and said that Eric Lander, a pioneer in mapping the human genome who is in line to be director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, is “one of the most brilliant guys I know.”
The president-elect, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Lander and other top science advisers never mentioned Trump's name, but they framed the inauguration Wednesday as a clean break from a president who downplayed the threat of COVID-19 and declared the science behind climate change to be a hoax.
“The science behind climate change is not a hoax. The science behind the virus is not partisan,” Harris said. “The same laws apply, the same evidence holds true regardless of whether or not you accept them.”
Biden emphasized how scientific research leads to practical progress and better quality of life, from the COVID-19 vaccines and new cancer treatments to clean energy expansion that reduces carbon emissions.
“Science is discovery. It’s not fiction,” Biden said. “It’s also about hope.”
And, again without naming Trump, the president-elect said one of his team’s tasks will be to gird public faith in science and its usefulness.