Francis Collins GRD ’74 is the lead candidate for the top position at the National Institutes of Health, according to a Bloomberg News report.
If selected by President Barack Obama, Collins would be in charge of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the NIH, which is the primary benefactor of the medical research grants that the University receives. About 50 percent of the Yale School of Medicine’s budget is research grants and the majority of them come from the NIH, according to Medical School officials.
As head of the NIH, Collins will likely be pressured to allocate more NIH funding to cancer research. He would also play a large role in checking congressional efforts to both limit specific areas of research and earmark funds for specific conditions.
Until he resigned Aug. 1, 2008, Collins was the Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. In that capacity, Collins not only led the team that won the race to map all 3 billion letters of the human genome, but ran the government funded project ahead of schedule and under budget.
In October, Collins, who won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 for his work as director of the Human Genome Project, spoke at Yale in Battell Chapel on the conflict between spirituality and science. He told audience members he believed that it is more than possible to be both scientific and spiritual and expressed regret at the combative tone of the current discussion surrounding science and religion.
“I find it deeply disturbing that so many shrill voices in our world are arguing that science has rendered God unnecessary,” he said.
The Bloomberg report, published Saturday, was attributed to an unnamed person familiar with the selection process. Obama may announce his choice for director of the NIH as early as next week, the source said.