NIH Director Francis Collins Steps into New Role

August 18, 2009

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., a distinguished geneticist who led the international effort to map the human genome and co-identified the CF gene, began work Monday as the new director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Collins and a team of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation-supported researchers identified the CF gene in 1989 and propelled the field of CF into a new era of therapeutics.  

As part of his duties as NIH Director, Collins will oversee a new program designed to speed the development of new drugs for rare and neglected diseases, including cystic fibrosis. This effort will bridge the wide gap in time and resources that exists between academic research and human testing of new drugs. The federal budget for fiscal year 2009 dedicated $24 million to establish this initiative.

"We congratulate Dr. Collins on his new position and look forward to the key role the NIH will play in advancing basic science and medical research," said Robert J. Beall, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. "As a pivotal member of the team that discovered the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis, Collins understands the importance and unique challenges of developing new drugs for rare and neglected diseases."

President Obama nominated Collins in July. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 7.

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