Letter to the Whitehead Institute Community from Director Ruth Lehmann on Inauguration Day
The following letter was sent to the Whithead Institute Community from Institute Director Ruth Lehmann on January 20, 2021.
Dear Whitehead Community,
Today we welcome our new President and Vice President. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris take over the helm of the United States during possibly the worst health crisis in our history: A COVID-19 pandemic that has affected every aspect of our lives and threatens to take more than half a million lives in the US alone. Devastatingly, the most vulnerable in our society bear the greatest toll by facing unequalled suffering not only by this relentless disease, but also by economic hardship in many forms.
I am inspired by the honest and thoughtful commitment President Biden and Vice President Harris have voiced to systematically address the many problems our society is facing. But I am probably most excited about their vision for science and research as an important catalyst to address imminent challenges, from how to fight a pandemic to how to achieve zero carbon emission by 2050. President Biden’s commitment is underscored by the fact he is elevating to cabinet level the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Further, emphasizing how much the life sciences in particular are center in any approach addressing imminent and future challenges, President Biden chose Dr. Eric Lander, a former Whitehead Fellow and faculty member and the founding director of Broad Institute to head OSTP. In a letter to Eric, President Biden outlines five questions aimed ‘to harness the full power of science and technology on behalf of the American people’. Among these, he asks how to support innovation in different fields and how to strengthen a high level of competitiveness for our country. At Whitehead, we cherish a community that encourages bold approaches to explore unchartered areas. I have great confidence that through innovation and discovery in a broad range of biological areas we will contribute, and also benefit from, a restored trust in science and exploration.
Ruth Lehmann, Ph.D.
Director, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Professor of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Communications and Public Affairs