GOP Chairmen Send Letter of Support for NIH Director; Maryland Lawmaker Expresses Interest in Leading Agency
On December 2, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairmen Tom Cole (R-OK) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) sent a letter to President-elect Trump’s transition team, urging the new administration to retain National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins. The chairmen state that Collins is the “right person, at the right time” to lead the NIH. They further emphasized that “under his leadership with Congress’ commitment to biomedical research as a national priority, the National Institutes of Health will thrive and continue to enhance the Nation’s health through scientific discovery and biomedical research.” Science magazine is also reporting that Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) is interested in the position. Harris currently sits on the House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the NIH’s budget. Harris, an anesthesiologist, has acknowledged that the scientific community may consider him a somewhat controversial choice to lead the agency.