Thirty distinguished leaders represent the most diverse PCAST in U.S. history, will develop science and technology recommendations to address the nation’s most pressing challenges
U.S. President Joe Biden has announced 30 of America’s most distinguished leaders in science and technology as members of his President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). According to a White House press release, this esteemed group of science and technology professionals includes Liberian-born Lisa Angeline Cooper, M.D., M.P.H., an internal medicine physician, social epidemiologist, and health services researcher.
Dr. Cooper was among the first to document how doctor-patient relationships can help overcome racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. Born in Liberia, she is one of the United States’ leading researchers and practitioners in the field of health equity, having designed innovative approaches to improve physicians’ communication skills, patients’ self-management skills, and the ability of healthcare organizations to address the needs of populations experiencing health disparities. She serves as the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Equity in Health and Healthcare at Johns Hopkins University and is Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity.
Created in 1990, PCAST is a direct descendant of the scientific advisory committee established by President Eisenhower in 1957 in the weeks after the launch of Sputnik. It comprises scientists, engineers, and industry leaders with diverse areas of expertise and backgrounds who are appointed by the President. Biden’s PCAST, established by an executive order on January 27, 2021, is the sole body of external advisors charged with making science, technology, and innovation policy recommendations to the President and the White House. This PCAST is set to terminate 2 years from the date of the executive order unless extended by the President.
Drawing from the nation’s most talented and accomplished individuals, President Biden’s PCAST includes 20 elected members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, five MacArthur “Genius” Fellows, two former Cabinet secretaries, and two Nobel laureates. Its members include experts in astrophysics and agriculture, biochemistry and computer engineering, ecology and entrepreneurship, immunology and nanotechnology, neuroscience and national security, social science and cybersecurity, and more.
This impressive group of science and technology experts are tasked, among other things, to answer what the Biden White House described as “the President’s key science questions”:
- What can we learn from the pandemic about what is possible—or what ought to be possible— to address the widest range of needs related to our public health?
- How can breakthroughs in science and technology create powerful new solutions to address climate change—propelling market-driven change, jump-starting economic growth, improving health, and growing jobs, especially in communities that have been left behind?
- How can the United States ensure that it is the world leader in the technologies and industries of the future that will be critical to our economic prosperity and national security, especially in competition with China?
- How can we guarantee that the fruits of science and technology are fully shared across America and among all Americans?
- How can we ensure the long-term health of science and technology in our nation?
The members represent the most diverse PCAST in U.S. history. PCAST is traditionally co-chaired by the President’s Science Advisor and 1-2 external co-chairs; since its inception in 1957, no women have ever served as co-chairs. President Biden’s PCAST has two women co-chairs. And, this PCAST reflects the President’s commitment to build an Administration that truly looks like America: for the first time ever, women make up half of PCAST, and people of color and immigrants make up more than one-third of PCAST. Its diversity will help the council bring to bear a wide range of perspectives to address the nation’s most pressing opportunities and challenges, so that science, technology, and engineering benefits all Americans.
“The future of America depends on science and technology like never before,” said PCAST Co-Chair and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Dr. Eric Lander. “President Biden understands that addressing the opportunities and challenges we face – to our health, our planet, our economic prosperity, and our national security – will require harnessing the full power of science and technology. Scientific progress depends on people seeing things in new ways, because they bring different lenses, different experiences, different passions, different questions. This PCAST is uniquely prepared because of its extraordinary scientific breadth, wide range of work experiences, and unprecedented diversity.”
“We are thrilled that some of our most accomplished Americans are willing to step up and serve the nation by being members of PCAST,” said PCAST Co-Chair Dr. Frances Arnold. “Their vast expertise will help the nation build back better through science and technology.”
“Science and technology permeate so many elements of government decision making,” said PCAST Co-Chair Dr. Maria Zuber. “I am excited to bring this historic and brilliant group’s knowledge, experience, and innovative thinking to bear on the nation’s toughest challenges in science and technology and navigate an equitable and inclusive path forward for the nation.”
As directed in the President’s executive order establishing PCAST, the council includes advisors from outside the federal government who are responsible for advising the President “on matters involving policy affecting science, technology, and innovation, as well as on matters involving scientific and technological information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, the environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics.”Additional information about PCAST and the PCAST members can be found at www.whitehouse.gov/PCAST.