Trump keeps Collins as Director of the NIH

On Tuesday, the White House announced President Donald Trump’s reappointment of Francis S. Collins as director of the National Institutes of Health for the next four years. Collins has been director since 2009.

In a statement, Collins said, “I am grateful for the president’s vote of confidence in my ability to continue to lead this great agency.”

The news quickly garnered widespread bipartisan support from members of Congress.

Chairman of the U.S. Senate health committee, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said the announcement was “one of President Trump’s best appointments.” He continued: “There’s nobody better qualified than Francis Collins to help accelerate the medical miracles that have the potential to help virtually every American Family.”

Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., the ranking Democrat on the House appropriations health subcommittee and a breast cancer survivor, said, “I’m alive because of biomedical research.” She added, “Francis Collins gets it, he’s there, he’s an outstanding scientist and an outstanding leader.”

Members of the scientific community also offered praise of Collins.

Vivek Murthy, vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and former U.S. surgeon general under President Obama, tweeted, “This is very good news. Francis Collins is a phenomenal scientist and a leader with integrity and vision. A good day for the NIH and the nation.”

United for Medical Research, a coalition of leading research institutions, patient and health advocates, and private industry groups, tweeted, “So glad you are staying on! Good news for the NIH, patients, & medical research. #keepNIHstrong.”

Prior to taking over at the NIH, Collins, a trained geneticist, served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH from 1998 to 2008. In addition, Collins led the International Human Genome Project, which resulted in the first successful mapping of the human genome in 2003.

Collins may have to contend with significant budget cuts in the coming years. For starters, the Trump administration has proposed an 18 percent, or $5.8 billion, cut to the agency in 2018.

With that budget battle around the corner, the scientific community should feel lucky to have such a strong advocate for biomedical research in its corner.

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