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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.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
18 mins ago - Economy & Business

What's really going on with the labor market

Source: YCharts

The labor market is showing some signs of improvement: Jobless claims fell to 730,000 — a dramatic drop from 841,000 the previous week. And the latest jobs report showed a pandemic-era low unemployment rate of 6.3%

But, but, but: That's not the full story, experts say.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
27 mins ago - Economy & Business

Markets see rare convergence milestone

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios Visuals

A milestone was reached in the markets Thursday: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to match the dividend yield on the S&P 500

Why it matters: The two yields have been inverted since the beginning of last year, which is historically unusual.