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This article is from the In-Depth Report Science and the U.S. Election

Nobel winners, other scientists advising Obama, report says

Two Nobel Prize winners are among the scientists advising Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama in his bid to capture the White House, a blog is reporting.

Harold Varmus and Peter Agre helped the Illinois senator craft his answers to science-policy questions put to the presidential contenders by Science Debate 2008, a group of academic and business leaders, according to Wired.

Varmus won the Nobel in 1989 for his discovery of retroviral oncogenes in cells, the idea that all cells have the potential to turn into cancer. Now president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Varmus formerly directed the National Institutes of Health.

Agre took the Nobel four years later for discovering regulating "channels" that transport water across cell membranes, a process necessary for all life forms, according to a press release from Johns Hopkins University, where Agre directs the Malaria Research Institute.

Obama's third science guru is Gilbert Omenn of the University of Michigan and the biotech Amgen. A doctor, Omenn has criticized creationists, according to Wired. University of Chicago astrophysicist Don Lamb, a former NASA mission scientist, and Stanford plant biologist Sharon Long are also on Obama's science team, the blog reports. Lamb has voiced concern over NASA's research budget and privatized space travel, while Long has been a financial supporter of both Obama and Hillary Clinton, Wired says.

In his replies to Science Debate 2008, Obama emphasized his support for gene and stem-cell research, genetic modification of plants and expanded NASA research, among other things.

Varmus told a Scientific American podcast two years ago that "the tendency of the current administration [is] to undermine science in a variety of ways that range from the fiscal to the regulatory and the political."

The Obama campaign, the scientists or spokespeople for their institutions didn’t immediately respond to e-mails and calls about the Wired report. The Wired blog offers a snapshot of the advisors' political statements, campaign contributions and financial ties to industry.

(Image from Obama for America)

 

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