I first met Dr. Saralyn Mark when we worked together at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) during the Obama administration. At that time, I was the Principal Assistant Director for Science and led the White House neuroscience initiative. Sara was a Senior Policy Advisor. Under the leadership of the President and his science advisor, Dr. John Holdren, OSTP was a key player in helping to shape national and international policy in the areas of science, technology, and the environment. At that time, key priorities for the Science Division of OSTP included spurring innovation, enhancing infrastructure, fostering inclusion in science and technology, and inspiring and broadening participation in the process. Examples included the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies), citizen science, public access to publications, encouraging open science and data, and a focus on fostering support for, and broadening participation in, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities. I left OSTP in 2015 and returned to Haskins Laboratories, where I am currently the Chief Executive Officer Emeritus, and Yale University, where I am an adjunct professor at the Yale School of Medicine.
On a visit to Yale by Sara, we had the opportunity to get together briefly, and Sara talked to me about the then current activities of, and future plans for, iGiant (the Impact of Gender/Sex on Innovation and Novel Technologies). Most exciting to me was the mission of the organization, “… to accelerate the translation of research into gender/sex-specific design elements such as products, programs, policies and protocols.” Also fascinating was learning about the many roundtables around the country that iGiant had organized, and getting the opportunity to participate in some of these and other iGiant related activities. The vision of iGiant to improve safety, quality of life, and work performance, is informed and enhanced by the insights and energy of the many participants of these interactive, group experiences. They also build a community that is important for fostering future progress.
Sara is inspirational, and I agreed to serve as Treasurer and a member of the iGiant Board. This organization has been formed at a critical time for our nation. Our innovative society must match its technological and research advances with equal attention to their ethical, practical, and equitable form and application. The challenges are considerable. These include issues of outreach, funding, and sustainability for this bold and novel venture, particularly during a time of considerable uncertainty about the nature of science and technology in our national enterprise. Keep in mind that the issues are important and that the opportunities and benefits that can emerge are profound. Patience and persistence are essential. I encourage all to participate and support iGiant and its activities.