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Trump to Keep Dr. Francis Collins as Director of National Institutes of Health

Dr. Francis Collins

Washington, DC, June 7, 2017The Washington Post reports that the White House yesterday announced that Francis S. Collins will stay on as Director of the National Institutes of Health, extending Collins’s tenure even as the Trump administration proposes deep cuts to the government’s premier biomedical research center.

Dr. Collins, a physician and geneticist, has led NIH since 2009.

Collins is renowned for his leadership of the International Human Genome Project, which in 2003 sequenced the complete human genetic blueprint for the first time.

Dr. Collins said in a statement, “I am honored to continue as the director of the National Institutes of Health and consider it a great privilege to serve at a time of unprecedented opportunity to advance health and relieve suffering through biomedical research.”

One challenge could come as the Trump administration seeks to cut the NIH budget for fiscal 2018 from $31.8 billion to $26 billion.

That would mean huge reductions in components such as the National Cancer Institute ($1 billion) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases ($838 million), where HIV research is conducted.

Congress rejected a similar effort to slash NIH funding for the current fiscal year, ultimately adding $2 billion to the agency’s budget.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), said in a statement that the decision to retain Collins is “good news for the country and one of President Trump’s best appointments.”

“There’s nobody better qualified than Francis Collins to help accelerate the medical miracles that have the potential to help virtually every American family,” Chairman Alexander said.