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Senator Arlen Specter Dies

Arlen Specter, a former US senator from Pennsylvania, has died, reports the Nature News blog. He was 82. Specter was a Republican until he switched parties in 2009.

The Nature News blog notes that Specter "was a big proponent of the doubling of the [US National Institutes of Health] budget over a five-year period that ended in 2003" and that he helped secure the NIH a large portion of the 2009 economic stimulus bill.

"I truly miss Arlen's steady hand and vision for our agency," writes NIH Director Francis Collins in a statement, adding that Specter's "expectations of the NIH were as high as his confidence in NIH. To pay tribute to the Senator's legacy, we at NIH will work harder than ever to meet those high expectations and to carry out our mission of turning scientific discoveries into better health for all."