Francis Collins Stepping Down as NIH Director

On October 5, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Francis Collins announced his intent to step down from his position by the end of the year. Collins has indicated he would continue to work at NIH within the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) after his tenure ends.

Collins, who took the helm of the agency in 2009 after 15 years of service as the director of NHGRI, is notable for being the longest serving presidentially appointed NIH director and for serving presidents from both major parties. In addition, Collins oversaw massive increases in the agency’s budget over his tenure and established many of the agency’s flagship research programs such as the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, the Helping to End Addiction Long-Term (HEAL) Initiative, and Cancer Moonshot Initiative. In recent years, Collins has been instrumental in galvanizing federal research programs addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and has been a vocal advocate for the proposed establishment of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) within NIH (see previous COSSA coverage for more details).

The NIH director is a presidentially appointed position and requires Senate confirmation. While a successor to Collins has not yet been nominated by the White House, it is likely that Principal Deputy Director Larry Tabak would become Acting Director in the interim. The announcement can be read in full on the NIH website.


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