President Donald Trump offered former Microsoft CEO and philanthropist Bill Gates the presidential science advisor job, but Gates declined, saying it wasn't a good use of his time, Stat News reports.
The science advisor position has been empty for more than a year, though a number of names, including University of Oklahoma meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier, Princeton University's William Happer, and NantWorks CEO Patrick Soon-Shiong, have been bandied to possibly fill the spot.
Gates tells Stat News he visited the president in the Oval Office, where they discussed, among other topics, the possibility that a universal flu vaccine could be developed. Gates says that he also brought up that the science advisor position remains to be filled. This, Gates says, prompted Trump to offer it to him, but Gates declined.
"I didn't put him to the test, whether that was a serious thing or not," Gates tells Stat News "He probably himself didn't know if he was serious. It was a friendly thing. He was being friendly."
The Verge notes that Gates isn't a scientist — though has a clear interest in science through his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — it adds "the best scientific credentials won't guarantee that a science advisor will be effective in changing Trump's mind, as he seems only to listen to people he thinks are powerful and rich. So maybe it's a shame for all of us that Gates doesn't want the job."