Dear Chair Cantwell and Ranking Member Wicker:
On behalf of the Coalition for the Life Sciences (CLS), I write to support with our highest enthusiasm the appointment of Eric Lander, Ph.D., as the Director of the Office of the Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). At this critical time in our nation’s history, we face existential challenges, in public health (including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic) and health care, in the environment (including climate change), in food and water security, and in energy production, utilization and storage. Each of these challenges can be addressed only by dramatic advances in science and technology motivated and coordinated by the nation’s next OSTP Director.
The CLS strongly endorses Dr. Lander as OSTP Director. He will bring to the position scientific brilliance, proven leadership, government experience, and communications skills to meet these challenges. His extraordinary capacity to assimilate and evaluate the full spectrum of science and technology will empower OSTP to make evidence-based recommendations that will strengthen the US science and technology endeavor writ large. Dr. Lander has demonstrated his leadership skills on a small scale in his own lab, at a larger level in his creation and leadership of the Broad Institute at Harvard and MIT, and at an enterprise level during his co-chairmanship of PCAST. These qualities are rare, and they are exactly what are needed in the next OSTP Director.
Dr. Lander’s scientific brilliance cannot be understated. His seminal research was the sequencing and interpretation of the human genome, a massive undertaking that changed the course of biomedical research. He was a principal leader on the Human Genome Project – a 13-year endeavor involving hundreds of scientists from around the world whose collected efforts culminated in sequencing human DNA from end to end. When the Human Genome Project ended in 2003, Dr. Lander founded and then led the Broad Institute, which was uniquely open, collaborative, cross-disciplinary, and able to organize projects from small to grand scales.
Dr. Lander’s scientific resume encapsulates only one facet of his impressive abilities. As OSTP Director, Dr. Lander will be called upon to make science, and its societal roles, more accessible to the American public. Dr. Lander is a superb spokesperson for science, and his experience in science policy qualifies him as an exceptional leader for OSTP, advisor to the administration and communicator to America’s residents.
As chair of the CLS Dr. Lander was eloquent in unpacking and developing informed context for science and technology policies, opportunities and issues, and a fierce advocate for scientific innovation and discovery. As co-chair of PCAST, he oversaw the development and release of over 30 reports that aided President Obama’s decision making on issues ranging from STEM education, nanotechnology, and climate change.
Dr. Lander is the right person to lead the OSTP, at a time when the opportunities for science to advance society are vast, and when science must be at the table for critical societal decisions. We urge you to rapidly and enthusiastically confirm his appointment, allowing him to begin the crucial work of coordinating interagency science and technology policy efforts.
Keith R. Yamamoto, Ph.D.
Chair, Coalition for the Life Sciences
Vice Chancellor for Science Policy and Strategy, UCSF Director, UCSF Precision Medicine
Vice Dean for Research, School of Medicine Professor, Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology