News Release

Thursday, July 22, 2010

NIH Director Announces Appointment of Alan Guttmacher as Director of NICHD

National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins M.D., Ph.D., announced today the appointment of Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., as director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), one of the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health. The appointment follows an extensive national search.

“As a pediatrician, geneticist, and highly regarded leader at NIH over the last decade, Alan has the experience and the vision to lead the NICHD during what promises to be the most exciting time for science as well as for women’s and children's health,” Dr. Collins said.

The focus of the NICHD is on human health and development, from conception, through the reproductive years, on disorders affecting women, and on rehabilitation after injury or disease.

“The NICHD’s research encompasses the life span,” Dr. Guttmacher said. “Its mission includes ensuring that every person is born healthy and wanted, that all children have the chance to achieve their full potential for healthy and productive lives, that couples are able to achieve the family size they desire, that childbearing is safe for all women, and that optimal rehabilitation is available to all who need it, due to injury or disease.”

As NICHD acting director, Dr. Guttmacher began the process of developing a scientific vision for the institute. For the next year, NICHD staff will work with multiple external communities that have an interest in the institute’s mission, to identify promising new scientific opportunities in the decade ahead.

“Our objective is to develop a scientific vision that sets a realistic but ambitious agenda and inspires the institute, the research community and the NICHD’s partners to achieve critical scientific goals and meet pressing public health needs,” Dr. Guttmacher said.

Dr. Guttmacher began his NIH career at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) as a special assistant to the director. He became deputy director in 2002 and acting director in 2008. While at the NHGRI, Dr. Guttmacher also oversaw the NIH's involvement in the Surgeon General's Family History Initiative, an effort to encourage Americans to learn about and use their families' health histories to promote personal health and prevent disease.

Dr. Guttmacher came to the NIH from the University of Vermont, where he directed the Department of Pediatrics’ Vermont Regional Genetics Center and Pregnancy Risk Information Service. He served as the medical director of the Vermont Newborn Screening Program, founded Vermont’s only pediatric intensive care unit, and co-directed the Vermont Cancer Center’s Familial Cancer Program. He also was the principal investigator for an NIH-supported initiative that was the nation’s first statewide effort to involve the general public in discussion of the Human Genome Project’s ethical, legal, and social implications.

Dr. Guttmacher is a graduate of Harvard College. He attributes his interest in medicine to his early career as a middle school teacher, when he developed an interest in the origins and treatment of pediatric learning disorders. After graduation from Harvard Medical School, he served as a physician in several developmental pediatrics programs at Children’s Hospital in Boston, where he then completed an internship and residency in pediatrics and a fellowship in medical genetics. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine, and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit the Institute's Web site 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

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®