US President Joe Biden has appointed Liberian-born Lisa A. Cooper, M.D., M.P.H., alongside among twenty-nine other distinguished personalities as members of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Ms. Cooper is an internal medicine physician, social epidemiologist, and health services researcher who was among the first to document how doctor-patient relationships can help overcome racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. Born in Liberia, she is one of the United States’ leading researchers and practitioners in the field of health equity, having designed innovative approaches to improve physicians’ communication skills, patients’ self-management skills, and the ability of healthcare organizations to address the needs of populations experiencing health disparities. She serves as the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Equity in Health and Healthcare at Johns Hopkins University and is Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity.
On Wednesday, September 22, 2021, she was appointed by President Biden along with 29 others as America’s most distinguished leaders in science and technology as members of his President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).
A direct descendant of the scientific advisory committee established by President Eisenhower in 1957 in the weeks after the launch of Sputnik, PCAST is the sole body of external advisors charged with making science, technology, and innovation policy recommendations to the President and the White House.
Drawing from the nation’s most talented and accomplished individuals, President Biden’s PCAST includes 20 elected members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, five MacArthur “Genius” Fellows, two former Cabinet secretaries, and two Nobel laureates. Its members include experts in astrophysics and agriculture, biochemistry and computer engineering, ecology and entrepreneurship, immunology and nanotechnology, neuroscience and national security, social science and cybersecurity, and more.
The members represent the most diverse PCAST in U.S. history. PCAST is traditionally co-chaired by the President’s Science Advisor and 1-2 external co-chairs; since its inception in 1957, no women have ever served as co-chairs. President Biden’s PCAST has two women co-chairs. And, this PCAST reflects the President’s commitment to building an Administration that truly looks like America: for the first time ever, women make up half of PCAST, and people of color and immigrants make up more than one-third of PCAST. Its diversity will help the council bring to bear a wide range of perspectives to address the nation’s most pressing opportunities and challenges, so that science, technology, and engineering benefit all Americans.
“The future of America depends on science and technology like never before,” said PCAST Co-Chair and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Dr. Eric Lander. “President Biden understands that addressing the opportunities and challenges we face – to our health, our planet, our economic prosperity, and our national security – will require harnessing the full power of science and technology. Scientific progress depends on people seeing things in new ways because they bring different lenses, different experiences, different passions, different questions. This PCAST is uniquely prepared because of its extraordinary scientific breadth, a wide range of work experiences, and unprecedented diversity.”
“We are thrilled that some of our most accomplished Americans are willing to step up and serve the nation by being members of PCAST,” said PCAST Co-Chair Dr. Frances Arnold. “Their vast expertise will help the nation build back better through science and technology.”
“Science and technology permeate so many elements of government decision making,” said PCAST Co-Chair Dr. Maria Zuber. “I am excited to bring this historic and brilliant group’s knowledge, experience, and innovative thinking to bear on the nation’s toughest challenges in science and technology and navigate an equitable and inclusive path forward for the nation.”
As directed in the President’s executive order establishing PCAST, the council includes advisors from outside the federal government who are responsible for advising the President “on matters involving policy affecting science, technology, and innovation, as well as on matters involving scientific and technological information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, the environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics.”
Read more about the PCAST members below. Additional information about PCAST and the PCAST members can be found at www.whitehouse.gov/PCAST.