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A few days before his inauguration, U.S. President Joe Biden nominated Eric Lander to be his administration’s science advisor as well as the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. In doing so, Biden took the additional and curious step of elevating the role of science advisor — which had historically been a nonofficial function — to a Cabinet-level position.
The move was largely a symbolic gesture. It brought no new influence or responsibilities to the title. And yet the scientific community should welcome such gestures as a reaffirmation of the validity of models and methodology in an environment where evidence-based thinking has somehow become viewed as a political position.