Science in the Public Interest: Devising a New Strategy

03.01.21 | 2 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

What actions should the federal government take “to ensure that our nation can continue to harness the full power of science and technology on behalf of the American people”?

President Biden posed that question and five more specific ones to his Science Advisor Dr. Eric S. Lander.

“My hope is that you, working broadly and transparently with the diverse scientific leadership of American society and engaging the broader American public, will make recommendations to our administration” on how best to structure the American scientific enterprise, then-President-elect Biden wrote on January 15.

Taking that as an invitation, the Federation of American Scientists’ Day One Project responded last week with a detailed set of actionable proposals for applying science and technology to current social, economic, and environmental challenges.

So, for example, the President asked what policy lessons could be derived from the current pandemic. The Day One Project suggested that a new Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA) modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA). . . could leverage existing federal research programs, as well as the efforts of the private sector, to develop new capabilities for disease prevention, detection, and treatment.”

An Open Source Approach to Pharmaceutical R&D could “tap into the totality of knowledge and scientific expertise that our nation has to offer . . . and enable the nation to work quickly and cooperatively to generate low-cost advances in areas of great health need.”

And there’s much more.

Day One Project Director Daniel Correa is the Acting President of the Federation of American Scientists.