Dr Francis Collins Head of U.S. National Institutes of Health
President Barack Obama nominated the genetics pioneer who helped identifiy genes associated with type 2 diabetes and the genes responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.
"My administration is committed to promoting scientific integrity and pioneering scientific research and I am confident that Dr. Francis Collins will lead the NIH to achieve these goals," Obama said in a statement.
"Dr. Collins is one of the top scientists in the world, and his groundbreaking work has changed the very ways we consider our health and examine disease. "
As director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, Collins, 59, helped lead the Human Genome Project that sequenced all the DNA in people.
There are two basic objections to Dr. Collins. The first is his very public embrace of religion. He wrote a book called “The Language of God,” and he has given many talks and interviews in which he described his conversion to Christianity as a 27-year-old medical student. Religion and genetic research have long had a fraught relationship, and some in the field complain about what they see as Dr. Collins’s evangelism.
The other objection stems from his leadership of the Human Genome Project, which is part of the N.I.H. Although Dr. Collins was widely praised in 2003 when the effort succeeded, the hopes that this discovery would yield an array of promising medical interventions have greatly dimmed, discouraging many.
Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., is probably best known for his leadership of the Human Genome Project, though his discoveries of the Cystic Fibrosis, Huntington’s, and Neurofibromatosis genes are also extraordinary accomplishments. Dr. Collins is a world-renowned scientist and geneticist, and also a committed Christian. In his recent best-selling book, The Language Of God, Dr. Collins attempts to harmonize his commitment to both science and religion.