National Institute of Health Director Francis Collins to Retire

Oct 18, 2021

by ASME.org

Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) plans to retire by the end of 2021. Collins has led the agency for more than 12 years, first appointed Director in 2009 by former President Obama. At the time, his appointment was unanimously confirmed and he continued to serve in the role through the Trump administration and into current President Biden’s administration.

 

Collins shared that his decision to retire is based on time, stating that he fundamentally believes “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 will have been the longest serving NIH director when he retires. Under his leadership, the agency grew by 38 percent and launched a number of important initiatives, such as the BRAIN initiative and the Cancer Moonshot.

 

During his tenure, Collins has been a vocal advocate for promoting diversity and inclusion in science. In 2019, he declared he would no longer participate in all-male speaking panels. It has also been reported that Collins offered apologies for NIH’s history of racial bias in awarding grants. Collins then directed NIH to take major steps to eliminate these biases.

 

ASME advocates for equitable access and inclusive practices in federal programs and funding. ASME strives to raise awareness of unconscious bias and promote cultural competence both within ASME and in the engineering field at large. Read ASME’s latest position statement on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the STEM Workforce” for more information on how ASME is working to achieve these objectives.

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