Public Affairs

BPS Urges Congress to Support NDD Programs, Replace Sequestration

Along with 400 organizations representing a variety of programs funded by the domestic discretionary portion of the federal budget, the Biophysical Society sent a letter to all members of Congress asking them to replace sequestration with a bipartisan, balanced approach to deficit reduction. The letter was sent to Congress as they returned from their Thanksgiving recess and faced two weeks before the December 13 deadline by which they were to develop a plan for the 2014 fiscal year.

A month earlier, the Society joined more than 180 organizations representing patients, scientists, health care providers, universities, and industry in sending a letter to House and Senate Budget Committee chairs Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) with the same message, but focused on funding for the National Institutes of Health. The letter, led by the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, urged Congress and the Administration “to work together on a responsible FY 2014 budget agreement that replaces sequestration with a balanced plan that recognizes the significant cuts already made to discretionary programs, preserves the nation’s investment in medical research, and protects the health of the American people.” In closing, the letter states that “If we are to address the health challenges of an aging and increasingly diverse population, and remain a vibrant force in the global economy, America needs more investment in medical research, not less.”

You can read both letters in their entirety on the Society Newsroom under the About Us tab: http://www.biophysics.org/AboutUs/NewsRoom/tabid/2243/Default.aspx.

Obama Makes Key DOE Nominations

In mid-November, President Barack Obama nominated Marc Kastner to become Director of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science, Franklin “Lynn” Orr to assume the role of Under Secretary for Science and Energy at DOE, and Ellen D. Williams to head the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) at DOE. Kastner is currently the dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Science, Orr is a petroleum engineering professor at Stanford University, and Williams is chief scientist at BP. These nominations will provide Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz with a full leadership team—these positions have been filled by acting Directors since he became Secretary.

If confirmed by the US Senate, Kastner will direct the office’s $4.6 billion budget that funds basic research at universities and 10 national labs. The office is currently managed by Deputy Director Patricia M. Dehmer.

As Under Secretary, Orr will oversee the Office of Science as well the offices of fossil fuel, energy efficiency and renewable energy, nuclear energy, electricity delivery and energy reliability, Indian Energy, and the technology transfer coordinator. Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Energy Michael Knotek has been serving in this role temporarily since 2011, when Steven E. Koonin left the position.

At ARPA-E, Williams will oversee the DOE’s lead office for finding breakthrough energy technologies. If confirmed, she will be the second director of ARPA-E, replacing Arunava Majumdar, who held the post since the office’s inception in 2010.