President Donald Trump has decided to keep Francis Collins as director of the NIH, the White House announced Tuesday.
There has long been speculation about whether Trump would keep Collins on to oversee the $34 billion per year medical research agency. Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican doctor from Maryland, had also been in the running to be NIH chief.
Collins is leading major HHS-wide initiatives into fighting cancer and neurological disorders. The Precision Medicine Initiative, an effort begun last year to study the interaction of genes and environment in more than 1 million Americans, is Collins’ brainchild.
He has sought to defend NIH from the severe cuts proposed in the Trump administration, which would slash nearly $6 billion from the agency’s budget.
Collins is an illustrious medical researcher who led an international effort that sequenced the first human genome in 2003. After leading human genome research institute at NIH from 1993 to 2008, he took the helm at NIH and has been there since 2009.
Collins, a guitar-playing, motorcycle-riding, born-again Christian, has written several books on science, medicine, and religion, and is a favorite of many Hill Republicans.