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  • Washington Highlights

    NIH Director to Step Down by Year’s End


    Christa Wagner, Manager, Government Relations

    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on Oct. 5 that Francis Collins, MD, PhD, will step down from his position as director by the end of the year.

    With over 12 years in the role, Collins is the longest serving presidentially appointed director of the NIH. He will continue to lead his research laboratory within the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute after relinquishing his responsibilities as director.

    Following the NIH announcement, AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, and Chief Scientific Officer Ross McKinney Jr., MD, issued a statement congratulating Collins on his tenure of more than a decade of leadership of the NIH.

    “Dr. Collins’ bold vision throughout his time at the NIH has helped to push the boundaries of science toward game-changing discoveries in the areas of cancer prevention and treatment, COVID-19 vaccine development, genomic mapping, the understanding of brain diseases, and so much more.”

    “His ability to communicate the value of science to policymakers and the public has been essential in engaging diverse voices in medical research, and his support from policymakers on both sides of the aisle has laid a strong foundation for the future of the NIH,” they stated.

    The AAMC-convened Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research also issued an Oct. 5 statement honoring Collins’ legacy of NIH leadership.

    “Both as a result of Dr. Collins’ own research over the course of his career and his visionary leadership at the helm of the NIH, the promise of better health for hundreds of millions of people is a reality. … In addition to his unimpeachable scientific credentials, Dr. Collins’ tenure as NIH director will be celebrated for his tireless commitment to support the next generation of scientists, promote a diverse and inclusive workforce, and inspire bright minds to pursue careers in medical research,” the coalition stated.

    President Joe Biden has indicated that he will name a nominee to replace Collins before the end of the year. The nominee to be the NIH director requires Senate confirmation following a hearing and approval of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.