News Release

Monday, August 17, 2009

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Sworn in as NIH Director

In his July 8 nomination announcement, President Obama stated: "The National Institutes of Health stands as a model when it comes to science and research. My administration is committed to promoting scientific integrity and pioneering scientific research and I am confident that Dr. Francis Collins will lead the NIH to achieve these goals. 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."

"As a scientist, physician, and passionate visionary, Dr. Collins will further NIH's ultimate mission to improve human health," said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "He is an ideal choice to lead the NIH and I look forward to working closely with him."

"I am truly honored and humbled to take the helm today of the world's leading organization supporting biomedical research," Dr. Collins said. "The scientific opportunities in both the basic and clinical realms are unprecedented, and the talent and dedication of the grantees and the staff guarantee that this will be a truly exciting era."

Dr. Collins, 59, a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project, served as director of NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) from 1993-2008. Under his direction, 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, Dr. Collins' own research laboratory 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 type 2 diabetes and the gene that causes Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome. Dr. 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 New York Times bestseller list. He is the author of a new book on personalized medicine, The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine (HarperCollins, to be published in early 2010).

Dr. 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 at Chapel Hill. Prior to coming to the NIH in 1993, he spent nine years on the faculty of the University of Michigan, where he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Collins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007.

Raynard S. Kington, M.D., Ph.D., who has served as acting NIH director since mid-October, will return to his role as NIH principal deputy director.

NIH has more than 19,000 employees and a fiscal year 2009 budget of $30.6 billion. It supports more than 325,000 research personnel at more than 3,100 institutions throughout the U.S., and around the world.

More information about Dr. Collins is available at, and a high-resolution photo is available for download at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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