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.

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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.