- NIH Director Nominee Francis Collins, MD, PhD
Many are applauding President Obama’s nomination of Dr. Francis Collins as the next director of the National Institutes of Health, and I join them in that applause.
I’ve been privileged to meet and work with Dr. Collins on several occasions in the past seven years. Spectrum helped him and the Progeria Research Foundation
announce their discovery of the gene that causes Hutchinson Gilford
Collins announces discovery of the gene responsible for Progeria
progeria syndrome, or Progeria, at a 2002 National Press Club briefing.
Progeria is the disease that causes premature aging in children. Children with Progeria die at an average age of 13 from atherosclerosis. Dr. Collins’s passion for these children and their families, as well as for all his pursuits and accomplishments in science have set him apart in my view as one of the best to lead the world’s premier medical research organization.
Dr. Collins is distinct not only for his research and passion for Progeria, but also in the way he has treaded the waters of the sometimes heated debate between science and faith. A White House press release noted that Dr. Collins has a “longstanding interest in the interface between science and faith,” which he discusses in his book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief – an interesting read.
With such a diverse background, as well as his many accomplishments – he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007 and elected into the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences – I’m confident that Dr. Collins is committed to promoting scientific integrity and revolutionary scientific research, but will do so with respect to the multitude of complex issues and viewpoints.
I’ve been to the NIH campus countless times. It’s large – plenty of room for the growing support of new and exciting research and a continued respect of various opinions. Mr. Obama’s nominee is truly good news, and let’s hope for a speedy confirmation process.