Senate Confirms Dr. Francis Collins as NIH Director
On August 7, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Dr. Francis Collins as the 16th director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Collins is a physician-geneticist known for his landmark discoveries of disease-causing genes and for spearheading the Human Genome Project. He served as director of NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) from 1993 to 2008.
Under the leadership of Dr. Collins, the Human Genome Project was completed in April 2003 after deciphering the human genetic code. Dr. Collins’ own research laboratory has been involved in the discovery of a number of genes, including those associated with cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease, type-2 diabetes, and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.
Dr. Collins received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Virginia, a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University, and an M.D. 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.
When President Obama nominated Dr. Collins on July 8, he said, “The National Institutes of Health stands as a model when it comes to science and research. 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. 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. I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.”
“Dr. Collins has the all-important vision of how to use new knowledge about the molecular basis of disease to transform the delivery of health care,” said NCI Director Dr. John E. Niederhuber. “Indeed, NCI shares that vision of personalized medical solutions with interventions designed around the unique biology of the individual. The collaboration between NCI and NHGRI on The Cancer Genome Atlas, in just 3 years, has significantly advanced our understanding of two cancers and, more importantly, demonstrated that it is possible to develop a high-throughput approach to cataloging the genetic alterations that drive the initiation and progression of cancer.”