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March 19, 2014
NIH Director’s Statement on Dr. John Ruffin’s retirement
I want to extend profound thanks to Dr. John Ruffin for his extraordinary service to NIH. For more than 24 years, he has been a tireless champion for the crucial goal of eliminating health disparities and advancing minority health. From the time he joined NIH in 1990 to lead the Office of Minority Programs (which evolved into the Office of Research on Minority Health), to his appointment as the first Director of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities in 2001, to his leadership of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities since 2010, John has done everything in his power to bring attention to and find solutions for the unequal burden of illness affecting minority, rural, and poor populations in this country. The transition to Institute status reflected the importance that Congress and the American people place on studying health disparities with an even greater intensity. It also enhanced John’s ability to make the strongest case possible for investing in this area of research. As he said when the new Institute was established, “We have made some progress towards eliminating health disparities. Yet there is much unfinished business.”
John leaves his post after a long list of important research accomplishments, including the training of more than 3,000 health professionals and organizing the health disparities summits. In the spirit of his drive and unflagging commitment, we will continue to vigorously pursue new knowledge about eliminating health disparities. We as an agency will continue to make significant strides, benefiting from John’s years of dedicated leadership. We will miss him at NIH, although I can’t believe that he will be able to stay too far away from the field of research to which he has devoted his life. On behalf of the NIH staff and the entire biomedical research community, I want to extend my deep gratitude to John for his outstanding service, and wish him the best in his future adventures.
Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institutes of Health