Late Breaking News
Francis Collins, MD, PhD, Tapped To Lead the National Institutes of Health
- Categorized in: July 2009 Issue
WASHINGTON, DC—The current director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, Francis Collins, MD, PhD, has been tapped by President Obama to lead the National Institutes of Health. Last month, the President announced that he was nominating Dr Collins for NIH director, a post previously held by Dr Elias Zerhouni and currently held by Acting NIH Director Raynard Kington, MD, PhD. “My administration is committed to promoting scientific integrity and pioneering scientific research, and I am confident that Dr Francis Collins will lead the NIH to achieve these goals,” President Obama said after announcing the nomination last month. “Dr Collins is one of the top scientists in the world, and his groundbreaking work has changed the very ways we consider our health and examine disease.”
Dr. Collins, a renowned physician-geneticist, achieved worldwide prominence during the 15 years (1993-2008) that he served as NHGRI director. During his tenure, the institute helped lead the successful effort to decode the human genome, an achievement that Dr. Collins has heavily promoted as necessary to elevate mankind’s nature of health and disease.
Dr.Collins has also garnered attention for his views on science and religion, which he discussed in his book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, which spent many weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He has just completed a new book on personalized medicine, The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine, to be published in 2010.
While he must face Senate confirmation before taking the post, Dr Collins has fostered a good relationship with legislators over the years, and legislators are predicting a smooth confirmation. Doctor Collins is a brilliant scientist—his leadership on the Human Genome Project ushered us into a new era of scientific understanding. But what has been less appreciated is his administrative ability. In fact, when the Human Genome Project began in 1990, people predicted that it would take 15 years at a cost of $3 billion to complete the work. “Thanks to Dr Collins’leadership and management, it took just 13 years and cost $2.7 billion to complete,” declared SenTom Harkin, D-Iowa, a leading Democrat on the Senate Health, Labor and Pensions Committee. “Dr. Collins’ ability to communicate complex ideas and policies to Congress and the public will serve us all well. In all the years I’ve known him, I’ve never ended a conversation with him without feeling smarter and more hopeful for the future.”
Dr Collins received a BS in Chemistry from the University of Virginia, a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Yale University, and an MD with Honors from the University of North Carolina. Prior to coming to NIH in 1993, he spent 9 years on the faculty of the University of Michigan, where he was an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He has been elected to the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007.