POTUS makes two science appointments

President Biden has recently filled two important science positions; the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the head of the recently-created Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H).

In June, President Biden announced his intention to nominate Arati Prabhakar as Director of OSTP. In addition, she will also be his Chief Advisor for Science and Technology, a co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and a member of the Cabinet. Prabhakar previously served as the head of the National Institute of Standards and Technology from 1993 to 1997 and as Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency from 2012 to 2017.

In September, the Senate confirmed Prabhakar’s nomination by a vote of 56 – 40. Prabhakar replaced Alondra Nelson, who has been leading the OSTP since the departure of Eric Lander. Prabhakar will also replace Francis Collins, who has been the acting Science Advisor since Lander’s departure.

Also in September, during a speech at the John F. Kennedy Library commemorating the 60 anniversary of Kennedy’s decision to send men to the Moon, President Biden announced that he would appoint Renee Wegrzyn as the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). Biden recently established ARPA-H to drive biomedical innovation that supports the health of all Americans. Wegrzyn previously worked at DARPA and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. She is currently a vice president of business development at Ginkgo Bioworks. Her appointment does not need to be approved by the Senate.

About the Author:

Kevin M. Wilson serves as Director of Public Policy and Media Relations for The American Society for Cell Biology. He's worked as the Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Robert Weygand (D-RI) and as a Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI). He has a BA in Politics and American Government from the Catholic University of America. Email: kwilson@ascb.org