Top genetics researcher led mapping of the human genome.
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., a physician and geneticist, is the new Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. President Barack Obama nominated Dr. Collins, who served as Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at NIH from 1993-2008. In August, the U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment by a unanimous vote.
Announcing his choice, the President said, "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." The President recalled that, with Dr. Collins at the helm, the Human Genome Project met its milestones ahead of schedule and under budget. The project concluded successfully in April 2003 with the complete map of the human genome, the instruction book for peoples' DNA.
Dr. Collins is also known for discovering 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 (rapid aging) syndrome.
Following Dr. Collins' confirmation, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, "Dr. Collins is one of our generation's great scientific leaders. He will be an outstanding leader. Today is an exciting day for NIH and for science in this country."
"Dr. Collins is one of our generation's great scientific leaders."
— Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services
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, he spent nine years on the faculty of the University of Michigan, where he was an investigator at 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.
Dr. Collins has recently completed a book on personalized medicine, The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine, to be published in early 2010 by HarperCollins.