publication date: Jun. 9, 2017

Francis Collins to stay on as NIH director in Trump administration

By Paul Goldberg

Donald Trump has asked Francis Collins to remain in his job as NIH director.

The move means that, as an official of the Trump administration, Collins will have to at least make an appearance of supporting its FY 2018 budget proposal, which would slash NIH by 21 percent and cut indirect costs charged by institutions that house NIH-funded researchers (The Cancer Letter, May 26).

This could occur on June 22, when Collins is slated to appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies. The House subcommittee held its hearing before the White House released its budget proposal.

While Trump’s FY2018 budget proposal is viewed as an expression of his administration’s low regard for science, the decision to retain Collins could enable the geneticist to defend NIH against the administration that places a high value on defense and border control.

Many insiders believe that Congress will not go along with the administration’s plan to cut funding for NIH.

Even though Collins will have to be silent or even supportive of the administration’s budget proposal, Collins has considerable bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, and his presence will provide continuity with—or at least serve as a reminder of—the 21st Century Cures Act and the Obama administration’s moonshot program.

The appointment also bodes well for the NIH All of Us Research Program, which seeks to enroll a million volunteers to enable research for a wide range of diseases.

For NCI, the selection of Collins means that, once again, NIH will have a permanent director while its largest institute, is headed by an acting director.
The NCI and NIH agendas have clashed in recent months, primarily … Continue reading Francis Collins to stay on as NIH director in Trump administration

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