NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, announced today that he will step down from his post on Aug. 1 to focus on “writing projects and other professional opportunities.”
Collins has been director of NHGRI since April 1993 and led the Human Genome Project to its completion in 2003. He also guided a number of follow-up initiatives, such as the International HapMap Project, the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements, the Knockout Mouse Project, the Mammalian Gene Collection, the Cancer Genome Atlas, the Molecular Libraries Initiative, and the Human Microbiome Project. Collins also founded an intramural program in genomics within the National Institutes of Health in 1993.
“My decision was driven by a desire for an interval of time dedicated to writing, reflection and exploration of other professional opportunities in the public or private sectors,” Collins said in a statement. “The demands and responsibilities of directing an NIH institute do not allow the time commitment necessary for this. In addition, I may need greater latitude than my current position allows to pursue other potential positions of service without encountering any possible conflicts of interest, whether real or perceived.”
Alan Guttmacher, deputy director of NHGRI, will be appointed acting director of the institute on Aug. 1. NIH said that it will soon begin a formal search process for a permanent NHGRI director.
“Francis has provided 15 years of outstanding leadership to NHGRI and has been a trailblazer in the scientific community at large,” NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, said in a statement. “His contributions to the world of genomics and medicine have been enormous.”