NIH director to step down after 12 years

Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, will leave his role as the director of the National Institutes of Health by the end of the year, the agency announced Oct. 5.

A physician-geneticist, Dr. Collins has served in his role for 12 years, making him the longest-serving presidentially appointed NIH director. He will continue to lead his research laboratory at the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the NIH.

"It has been an incredible privilege to lead this great agency for more than a decade," Dr. Collins said in a news release. "I love this agency and its people so deeply that the decision to step down was a difficult one, done in close counsel with my wife, Diane Baker, and my family. I am proud of all we’ve accomplished. I fundamentally believe, however, that no single person should serve in the position too long, and that it's time to bring in a new scientist to lead the NIH into the future. I'm most grateful and proud of the NIH staff and the scientific community, whose extraordinary commitment to lifesaving research delivers hope to the American people and the world every day."

Dr. Collins became NIH director on Aug. 17, 2009, under President Barack Obama. He continued the role under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

During his tenure, the budget for the nation's medical research agency grew from $30 billion in 2009 to $41.3 billion in 2021. Dr. Collins also is credited with launching initiatives such as the All of Us Research Program, which is part of efforts to spur research in precision medicine, and the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative to study the brain. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he helped launch initiatives including the Community Engagement Alliance Against COVID-19 Disparities to support partnership to address health disparities.

An NIH official told The Washington Post there has not been a decision on an interim director.

Read more about Dr. Collins here


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