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Science Influence

The influence of the presidential science advisor in the US has risen and fallen, depending on the administration, the New York Times writes.

It add that the position was first established by President Harry Truman in 1951, but that President Richard Nixon did away with the post in 1973, before Congress revived it and created the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The Times writes that President Joe Biden appears to be promoting the position, as he has made it a Cabinet-level post. He further has charged his choice for the spot, the Broad Institute's Eric Lander, in a public letter with ensuring scientific advances help all Americans. However, the Times notes that the Biden Administration has also moved ahead with new science initiatives, even as Lander has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, calling into question how involved he might be.

According to Politico, the delay in Lander's confirmation is in part due to concerns about meetings he had in 2012 with the financier Jeffrey Epstein, who was charged with sex trafficking before his death. It adds that Lander and the White House say he met Epstein briefly at two events and had no relationship with him.

The Times adds that Lander's confirmation hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.