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Xavier Becerra as Health Secretary Nominee

US President-elect Joe Biden is to nominate Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, the New York Times reports.

The Times notes that, if confirmed, Becerra "will immediately face a daunting task" in running the department during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It adds that his selection to be HHS Secretary is surprising, as Becerra, who also previously represented Los Angeles in Congress, has a high profile on criminal justice and immigration and was thought to be a contender for the US attorney general slot. But according to CNN, Becerra has been a staunch defender of the Affordable Care Act in court and beat out other candidates with stronger healthcare backgrounds. "COVID-19 has made one thing undeniable: We must safeguard the Affordable Care Act — lives depend on it," Becerra said last month, according to CNN.

The Biden transition team additionally announced the selection of Vivek Murthy for surgeon general and Rochelle Walensky to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Further, Marcella Nunez-Smith is to chair the COVID-19 Equity Task Force, while Anthony Fauci is to serve as chief medical advisor to the President on COVID-19 as well as stay on as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Jeff Zients is to serve as coordinator and Natalie Quillian as deputy coordinator of the COVID-19 response.

The Scan

Back as Director

A court has reinstated Nicole Boivin as director of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Science reports.

Research, But Implementation?

Francis Collins reflects on his years as the director of the US National Institutes of Health with NPR.

For the False Negatives

The Guardian writes that the UK Health Security Agency is considering legal action against the lab that reported thousands of false negative COVID-19 test results.

Genome Biology Papers Present Epigenetics Benchmarking Resource, Genomic Architecture Maps of Peanuts, More

In Genome Biology this week: DNA methylation data for seven reference cell lines, three-dimensional genome architecture maps of peanut lines, and more.