July 16th, 2010 | Uncategorized

Mr. Levin goes to Washington

University President Richard Levin joined other members of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology in Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning to hear from U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

President Barack Obama appointed Levin to PCAST, a group of science and engineering experts selected by the president to advise him on science and technology-related policy, in 2009. Levin, Yale’s Frederick William Beinecke Professor of Economics, is the only economist on the council.

In addition to advising the president, the council holds open meetings every two to three months, at which members of the public can voice their concerns or share their opinions. One such meeting took place today, but Thursday’s meeting was limited to PCAST members and government insiders, a White House representative said Wednesday.

The White House representative declined to comment on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting, or the topic of Hamburg’s speech.

After hearing from the public at today’s meeting, members of PCAST were scheduled to update the audience on their current projects, which include a study of health information technology, a searchable database of health care records designed to facilitate transfers of patients’ information between doctors and hospitals, and a review of science, technology, engineering and math education in America.

This spring, PCAST finished a review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, an umbrella organization made of 25 federal organizations that research or regulate the applications of nanotechnology, concluding that the U.S. is the clear leader in nanotechnology, though other countries like China, South Korea and the European Union have made strides in recent years.

Hamburg, whom Obama nominated to become the commissioner of the FDA in 2009, gave the commencement address for the School of Public Health in May.

Video of the public PCAST meeting is available here.

Correction: July 20, 2010

An earlier version of this article in one instance misidentified Margaret Hamburg as the president of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; she is the FDA’s commissioner.