White House names OSTP interim director following Lander resignation

Alondra Nelson will lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy until permanent leadership is nominated and confirmed.
Alondra Nelson, deputy director for science and society at OSTP, speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on January 16, 2021. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images).

President Biden has appointed Alondra Nelson to lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy until permanent leadership is nominated and confirmed, the White House announced Wednesday.

In addition, Biden has named Dr. Francis Collins to serve as his science adviser and co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology absent permanent leadership.

Eric Lander was set to leave both positions vacant Feb. 18, when his resignation over disrespecting and demeaning staff goes into effect, leaving the White House scrambling to preserve its science and technology priorities.

“These appointments will allow OSTP and the president’s science and technology agenda to move seamlessly forward under proven leadership,” reads the White House’s announcement.


Biden wants his selections focused on creating an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, building support for a Cancer Moonshot 2.0, finding a new National Institutes of Health head, and PCAST.

Nelson currently serves as OSTP‘s deputy director for science and society, having led efforts to protect scientific integrity in government, broaden participation in STEM fields, strengthen U.S. research infrastructure, and ensure equitable access to emerging technologies. That work saw her implementing Biden’s early executive orders on restoring trust in government and advancing racial equity. Her appointment is also notable given multiple OSTP staffers’ accounts of her predecessor, Lander, taking particular delight in embarrassing women.

Collins recently stepped down as the longest-serving NIH director, having served there 12 years under three presidents. He continues to run its research lab.

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