Biden narrows in on his next top science adviser

Biden narrows in on his next top science adviser

President Joe Biden is closing in on a new top scientist for his administration. According to three White House officials,

Aratiprabhakar is the frontrunner for the White House’s science office. He was the Head of the Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, 2012 to 2017,.

Biden spoke with Prabhakar recently about leading the Office of Science and Technology Policy. And a White House official confirmed that Prabhakar is currently “a leading contender for the President to nominate as OSTP Director and serve as his Science Advisor.”

The job, which Biden originally elevated to a cabinet level position, has not been officially filled since Eric Lander resigned in February after POLITICO reported that an internal White House investigation found he had bullied and demeaned subordinates. It’s unclear if Biden would restore the position to cabinet level.

Since Lander’s departure, Alondra Nelson has been performing the duties of OSTP director while former director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, has served as the president’s science adviser. After Lander’s departure, Nelson embarked on what some administration officials called an “apology tour” across departments and agencies to try to reset the relationship with the office and the rest of the administration.

Prabhakar would still be entering an office with mixed morale following the last few months.

The President has given the science office the responsibility of running point on “cancer moonshot”, which is a personal priority following the death in 2015. Beau from brain cancer.

Prabhakar was unanimously confirmed by the Senate as the first woman to lead the National Institute of Standards and Technology during the Clinton administration. Between then and her time in the Obama administration she worked in Silicon Valley. She is currently the CEO of Actuate which promotes itself as a “nonprofit organization, formed to contribute a fresh approach to society’s critical challenges.”

Actuate did not respond to a request for comment.

“Dr. Prabhakar was a fantastic DARPA director who led the agency at a critical time for our nation’s defense,” Ash Carter, the former Secretary of Defense, said in a statement. “She is a superb and forward-thinking leader who understands the innovation ecosystem throughout the country and the need to attract and retain new and diverse talent to America’s science and technology enterprise.”

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