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Photo: "Axios on HBO"

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.

"I have now been doing science for three decades as a professional scientist. And I can say that over that period of time, I've seen an increasing distrust of science and scientists, to the point where I think now we're seeing kind of an extreme case where we have a president who is telling his followers that ... if they vote for his opponent, that ... his opponent will ... listen to scientists, as though that is a terrible thing."

The big picture: Doudna acknowledges that the scientific community probably hurt itself. The effort to stay above the political fray may well have led to too little dialogue between those making discoveries and the leaders responsible for funding those efforts.

  • Doudna said she is a little too busy to run for office, but she would like to see others take that path. "Any scientist who wants to go in that direction, I do think that is really, really important. They will get my vote."

Driving the news: Doudna and French colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier were earlier this month awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work on CRISPR, a gene-editing technique that can be likened to a pair of molecular scissors that can change DNA.

  • Doudna talked about the challenges she faced as a woman pursuing a career in a male-dominated field. She recalled a high school guidance counselor who asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up.
"I said, 'Well, I want to be a scientist.' And he said, 'Oh, girls don't do that.' But, you know, I'm a pretty stubborn person. And when he said that to me, I thought, 'Well, this girl is gonna do science.'"

The bottom line: While Doudna was part of the first all-female team to win the Nobel Prize in chemistry, she said her goal is for that to eventually be unremarkable.

  • "I would hope for a future where ... it's no surprise that two women win a prize like this in chemistry."

Go deeper

Updated Feb 29, 2020 - Science

The next frontier for Big Science

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

In 1945, engineer and science administrator Vannevar Bush laid out a framework for support of science in the U.S. that drove prosperity and American dominance. That model isn't enough anymore, experts said at an event this week in Washington, D.C.

The big picture: With China threatening to overtake the U.S. in R&D spending even as research becomes more international, science must manage the tension between cooperation and competition.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.