Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today that the United States Senate unanimously confirmed Dr. Francis Collins as the next director of the National Institutes of Health.
“Dr. Collins is one of our generation's great scientific leaders. A physician and geneticist, Dr. Collins served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, where he led the Human Genome Project to completion,” said Sebelius. “Dr. Collins will be an outstanding leader. Today is an exciting day for NIH and for science in this country.”
Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project, served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health from 1993-2008. With Collins at the helm, the Human Genome Project consistently met projected milestones ahead of schedule and under budget. This remarkable international project culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. In addition to his achievements as the NHGRI director, Collins’ own research laboratory has discovered a number of important genes, including those responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease, a familial endocrine cancer syndrome, and most recently, genes for adult onset (type 2) diabetes and the gene that causes Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome. Collins has a longstanding interest in the interface between science and faith, and has written about this in The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press, 2006), which spent many weeks on the 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 (HarperCollins, to be published in early 2010). Collins received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Virginia, a PhD 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 nine 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.