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Francis Collins to Step Down

Francis Collins, the director of the US National Institutes of Health, is to step down by the end of the year, Politico reports.

Collins was confirmed as NIH director in 2009 after being nominated to the post by President Barack Obama. He then stayed on at the position during the Trump Administration and into the Biden Administration. According to the Washington Post, Collins is the longest-serving NIH director, leading the agency for 12 years.

"I am proud of all we've accomplished. I fundamentally believe, however, that no single person should serve in the position too long, and that it's time to bring in a new scientist to lead the NIH into the future," Collins says in a statement.

During his tenure at NIH, the agency launched the Cancer Moonshot program and the All of Us Research Program, as well as worked with Moderna to develop a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, the Post writes. At the same time, the agency had to deal with a deadly outbreak at its Clinical Center and work to boost diversity among the researchers it funds. Collins also tells the Post that the recent culture war over mask wearing and SARS-CoV-2 vaccination has been a "major heartbreak."

Prior to taking on the NIH director role, Collins served as the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute and oversaw the international effort to sequence the human genome, the Post notes. Politico adds that Collins plans return to his NIH lab to continue studying Type 2 diabetes and Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome.

There has been no decision yet on an interim director, according to the Post.

The Scan

More Boosters for US

Following US Food and Drug Administration authorization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, the Washington Post writes.

From a Pig

A genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a human without triggering an immune response, Reuters reports.

For Privacy's Sake

Wired reports that more US states are passing genetic privacy laws.

Science Paper on How Poaching Drove Evolution in African Elephants

In Science this week: poaching has led to the rapid evolution of tuskless African elephants.