WASHINGTON: United States President-elect Joe Biden on Friday (Jan 15) named Eric Lander as White House science adviser, and announced that he is upgrading the role to a Cabinet-level position - a sharp break from predecessor Donald Trump as America grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The former vice president will have to grapple with a nation hard-hit by COVID-19. Known infections have surpassed 23 million with almost 400,000 deaths recorded.
Lander, a geneticist who helped map the human genome, will head the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and advise Biden.
"Science will always be at the forefront of my administration - and these world-renowned scientists will ensure everything we do is grounded in science, facts and the truth," Biden said in a statement announcing the appointment of Lander and other experts.
"Their trusted guidance will be essential as we come together to end this pandemic, bring our economy back and pursue new breakthroughs to improve the quality of life of all Americans," he added.
Lander is president and founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a top biomedical research non-profit.
He tweeted that he was "humbled and excited" to serve, adding: "So much to be done, and it will take everyone working together."
Trump is famously sceptical of science, questioning climate change and once referring to Anthony Fauci and other government pandemic advisers who called on Americans to wear masks and social distance as "idiots".