During a nomination hearing, the Broad Institute's Eric Lander said he would promote diversity and equity in science, Politico reports. It adds that Lander also addressed concerns about meetings he had with the financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
President Joe Biden nominated Lander as science advisor and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in mid-January, but his confirmation hearings had been delayed. As Politico previously reported, that delay was in part due to concerns about Lander's meetings with Epstein. While in front of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Thursday, Lander said he briefly met Epstein during two events in 2012 and didn't learn of his "sordid history" until later, Politico reports. It adds that Lander noted he had no other association with Epstein.
Lander also faced criticism that he had downplayed the contributions of women in science, particularly of Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier in the development of CRISPR. According to Politico, he acknowledged "understating" their contributions. "I made a mistake, and when I make a mistake I own it and try to do better," he said.
It adds that Lander promised to "make full inclusion and equitable outcomes a high priority" for the science office.