On September 28-29, 2021, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) held its inaugural meeting, which was open to the public.  Co-chaired by Frances Arnold (California Institute of Technology), Maria Zuber (Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT]), and Eric Lander (Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy), PCAST focused its meeting on two topics: U.S. competitiveness, security, and international science and technology leadership; and U.S. public health and pandemic preparedness. The meeting provided PCAST with an opportunity to hear from representatives of a broad range of sectors, including federal, state, and local governments, academia, and industry. 

On day 1, Zuber moderated the session on U.S. competitiveness and leadership. She opened the meeting by observing how much the world has changed since publication of Vannevar Bush’s report Science-The Endless Frontier in 1945. Zuber noted that today the United States faces a very different world, with serious competition from nations that seek science and technology leadership, and from countries that have become magnets for international scientific talent.

On day 2, Arnold, moderator for the session on public health and pandemic preparedness, opened the meeting by commenting on the enormous toll the pandemic has taken on the nation in terms of lives lost and economic hardship, and opportunities to strengthen both the public health system and pandemic preparedness.

Throughout the 2-day meeting, PCAST members engaged in a lively question-and-answer discussion with the speakers. More than 200 individuals viewed the meeting.

INVITED SPEAKERS (in order of presentation)

Day 1: U.S. competitiveness, security, and international science and technology leadership

  • Richard Danzig, Former Secretary of the Navy
  • Jonathan Gruber, MIT
  • Maryanne Feldman, University of North Carolina
  • Bill Bonvillian, MIT
  • Bindu Nair, Department of Defense (DoD)
  • Donald Graves, Department of Commerce
  • Sethuraman Panchanathan, National Science Foundation

Day 2: U.S. public health and pandemic preparedness

  • Elizabeth Cameron, National Security Council
  • Georges Benjamin, American Public Health Association
  • Scott Gottlieb, American Enterprise Institute
  • Anne Schuchat, formerly of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Terry Adirim, DoD
  • Andy Slavitt, Town Hall Ventures
  • Mandy Cohen, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
  • Charity Dean, The Public Health Company
  • Joshua Sharfstein, Johns Hopkins University
  • Stéphane Bancel, Moderna
  • Karen DeSalvo, Google

PCAST’s next public virtual meeting will be held on October 18-19, 2021.

Additional information about this meeting and PCAST’s future meetings can be found at https://www.whitehouse.gov/pcast/meetings


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