Collins GRD ’74 confirmed as NIH director

The Senate on Friday unanimously confirmed Francis Collins GRD ’74 as the next director of the National Institutes of Health.

“Dr. Collins will be an outstanding leader. Today is an exciting day for NIH and for science in this country,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

Francis Collins, who won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 for his work as director of the Human Genome Project, spoke to more than 100 members of the Yale community at Battell Chapel in October on the conflict that arises when combining spirituality with a trust and faith in science.
Eva Galvan
Francis Collins, who won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 for his work as director of the Human Genome Project, spoke to more than 100 members of the Yale community at Battell Chapel in October on the conflict that arises when combining spirituality with a trust and faith in science.

As director of the NIH, the 59-year old Collins, whom President Barack Obama called “one

of the top scientists in the world” when he announced his nomination a month ago, will supervise the 27 institutes and centers that make up the NIH and will oversee the allocation of almost $40 billion in federal research funding.

A physician and geneticist, Collins is best known for his leadership of the Human Genome Project, which completed documenting the human genome under budget and ahead of schedule in April 2003, as well as for serving as the director of the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute from 1993 to 2008.

The NIH is the primary source of the medical research grants that Yale receives. About 50 percent of the Yale School of Medicine’s budget comes from research grants, the majority of which come from the NIH, according to Medical School officials.

At Yale, Collins studied physical chemistry as a doctoral student and returned to the University in 1981 as a researcher, working as a fellow in human genetics and pediatrics at the School of Medicine for three years.

Comments

  • Mariano

    Some immersed are some in polemics that one can almost forget that Collins is just a good ol’ fashioned scientist.

    Some info on him is found at these URLs:

    http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com/2009/04/john-horgan-and-francis-collins.html

    http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-atheists-on-francis-collins.html

    http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com/2009/08/francis-collins-barack-obama-and.html

  • Don

    Sorry, but "a good ol’ fashioned scientist," is a scientist whose view of the universe is utterly unaffected by his unreasoning devotion to mythology.

    Collins summarizes his understanding of the universe for the general as follows, from a lecture that Collins gave at the University of California, Berkeley in 2008):

    Slide 1
    Almighty God, who is not limited in space or time, created a universe 13.7 billion years ago with its parameters precisely tuned to allow the development of complexity over long periods of time.

    Slide 2
    God’s plan included the mechanism of evolution to create the marvelous diversity of living things on our planet. Most especially, that creative plan included human beings.

    Slide 3
    After evolution had prepared a sufficiently advanced “house” (the human brain), God gifted humanity with the knowledge of good and evil (the Moral Law), with free will, and with an immortal soul.

    Slide 4
    We humans use our free will to break the moral law, leading to our estrangement from God. For Christians, Jesus is the solution to that estrangement.

    Slide 5
    If the Moral Law is just a side effect of evolution, then there is no such thing as good or evil. It’s all an illusion. We’ve been hoodwinked. Are any of us, especially the strong atheists, really prepared to live our lives within that worldview?

    Is it really so difficult to perceive a conflict between Collins’ science and his religion? Just imagine how scientific it would seem if Collins, as a devout Hindu, informed his audience that Lord Brahma had created the universe and now sleeps; Lord Vishnu sustains it and tinkers with our DNA (in a way that respects the law of karma and rebirth); and Lord Shiva will eventually destroy it in a great conflagration.

    As Sam Harris points out, "Just imagine how scientific it would seem if Collins, as a devout Hindu, informed his audience that Lord Brahma had created the universe and now sleeps; Lord Vishnu sustains it and tinkers with our DNA (in a way that respects the law of karma and rebirth); and Lord Shiva will eventually destroy it in a great conflagration."

    Bad old-fashioned scientist is more like it.

  • Anonymous

    Point taken. This appointee will most certainly NOT put the NIH in a good position at least in terms of bioethics-related policies that they may have to consider in the upcoming years. I thought we were finished with this type of thing after Bush left office.