Democrats, Republicans press Biden’s top scientist on gender, race and Epstein connection


Each the top Democrat and top Republican on the panel have expressed concern about Lander’s nomination on account of his interactions with Epstein, POLITICO has reported, whereas different lawmakers have questioned his previous remedy of fellow feminine scientists and his embrace of a notable biologist accused of espousing racist and sexist views.

“The Epstein connection is of great concern to us,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) mentioned at Thursday’s listening to.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Unwell.), the primary Thai American girl elected to Congress, mentioned she is “troubled” about these incidents, in addition to allegations Lander has downplayed the position feminine scientists performed in creating breakthrough genetics expertise.

“The underside line is that if confirmed you’ll have the authority to advertise the illustration of ladies and minorities in STEM fields, so I strongly encourage you to make use of this listening to as a possibility to elucidate the way you’ve realized out of your previous errors,” Duckworth mentioned.

Lander on Thursday acknowledged he “understated” the work of two feminine scientists, 2020 Nobel Prize winners Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, in a 2016 paper concerning the “pioneers” behind the landmark CRISPR gene-editing expertise.

“I made a mistake, and after I make a mistake I personal it and attempt to do higher,” he mentioned in response to questions from Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).

The controversies threaten Lander’s affirmation to be OSTP director, a task that Biden is elevating to the Cupboard degree for the primary time. Lander is the one Cupboard nominee who has but to be confirmed.

A placing distinction: The controversy over Lander’s dealing with of problems with race and gender arrives because the Biden administration has pushed to make advancing fairness within the U.S. and boosting variety within the ranks of the federal authorities one among its top priorities.

Lawmakers had referred to as on Biden to nominate a lady or individual of shade to the OSTP director spot and different top science roles within the govt department, on condition that these demographics have historically been underrepresented in these positions and in STEM fields extra broadly.

Tons of of feminine scientists in January wrote an open letter opposing Lander’s nomination, which they mentioned confirmed that the “glass ceiling in American science stays intact.”

The group applauded efforts the Biden administration has taken to spice up variety in federal workplace, however mentioned the Lander choose “fails to fulfill the second” and “exemplifies the established order.”