Bureaucracy, Education, Genetics

Collins approved to lead the NIH


Erin Podolak

In a unanimous vote, the Senate confirmed geneticist Francis Collins as Director of the NIH.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced the confirmation of Francis Collins as the next director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The nomination was confirmed by a unanimous consent vote, which does not require a floor debate or a roll-call vote.

“Dr. Collins is one of our generation’s great scientific leaders,” said Sebelius in a statement. Collins was nominated for the position by President Obama on July 8, which received positive feedback from Democrats and Republicans.

Collins has received attention for his interest in the relationship between science and religion. His book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, is a New York Times best seller.

Collins is well known for leading the Human Genome Project, which was completed ahead of time and under budget, while he was Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). He led the organization from 1993 until 2008.

Since stepping down as Director of the NHGRI, Collins has written a new book on personalized medicine. The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine is anticipated in 2010.

“Dr. Collins will be an outstanding leader,” said Sebelius. “Today is an exciting day for the NIH and for science in this country.”

In addition to his success mapping the human genome, Collins is credited with discovering several other important genes, including those that cause cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease, and adult-onset (type II) diabetes.

Prior to serving as director of NHGRI, Collins was a faculty member at the University of Michigan and a researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He was honored in 2007 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In his spare time, Collins is an amateur musician. His guitar is embellished with a DNA double helix on the fret board.


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