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Collins Nominated to Lead NIH

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – President Barack Obama will nominate Francis Collins, former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, to run the National Institutes of Health, according to a statement released by the White House Wednesday.

"My administration is committed to promoting scientific integrity and pioneering scientific research and I am confident that Dr. Francis Collins will lead the NIH to achieve these goals," Obama said in the statement.

Obama called Collins "one of the top scientists in the world," and added that "his groundbreaking work has changed the very ways we consider our health and examine disease."

Collins, a physician and geneticist who led the Human Genome Project, served as an adviser for the new administration after he left his post as NHGRI director last year.

While Collins was NHGRI director between 1993 and 2008, the institute "consistently met projected milestones ahead of schedule and under budget," the White House said.

A number of scientific organizations applauded the news as a sign that genomics and personalized medicine may pay a larger role in NIH policy.

"His communication and leadership abilities will facilitate innovative approaches to biomedical research and the advancement of personalized medicine," said Patrick Terry, a board member of the Personalized Medicine Coalition and President of Technic Solutions, in a statement.

Edward Abrahams, PMC's executive director added, ''Through his leadership, we have indeed entered the genomic age, and are on the way towards realizing the revolution that will change healthcare in the future.''

"[Collins] knows how to optimize resources, discovery, and the development of diagnostics and therapeutics and will promote open collaboration amongst and between federal agencies, industry, academic and nonprofits," Kemp Battle, treasurer for the patient advocacy group Genetic Alliance, said.

"The nation's medical schools and teaching hospitals are very pleased" with the selection, the Association of American Medical Colleges said in a statement.

"Collins' brilliant leadership of the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium resulted in the successful completion of the project ahead of schedule and under budget," AAMC said, adding that this "is just one example of the expertise he will bring to the NIH and its 27 institutes and centers."

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