Collins unanimously confirmed as head of NIH

Pia Christensen

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Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., has been unanimously confirmed as director of the National Institutes of Health, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today.

“Dr. Collins is one of our generation’s great scientific leaders. A physician and geneticist, Dr. Collins served as Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, where he led the Human Genome Project to completion,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Dr. Collins will be an outstanding leader. Today is an exciting day for NIH and for science in this country.”

Francis S. Collins

Francis S. Collins

Collins, a geneticist, had received some attention when he was nominated because of his religious beliefs. The evangelical Christian wrote a book, “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.”

Jacob Molyneux, senior editor at the American Journal of Nursing, examined some of what was written about Francis at the time and looked at the then-nominee’s statements and records, including those about the use of embryonic stem cells for research. He concluded that “for Collins, science and the potential for alleviation of human suffering trump moral or religious absolutism and blind adherence to the sanctity of life issue.”

The Los Angeles Times ran a point-counterpoint piece about the topic, Newsweek‘s religion editor weighed in, and The New York Times ran an op-ed by an author who is “uncomfortable” with Francis’ nomination. Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle did a Q&A with Josh Rosenau from the National Center for Science Education, which defends the teaching of evolution in public schools.

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