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AACR Expresses Sincere Appreciation to NIH Director Francis Collins

PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) today expressed its gratitude to Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, for his exceptional service to the American people as Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the past 12 years. Collins announced earlier this week that he would step down as NIH Director by the end of 2021 to return to his laboratory at the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). Collins served as Director of the NHGRI from 1993-2008.

“Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Collins has been recognized for both his innovative contributions to basic and clinical research and his extraordinary stewardship of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world,” said AACR President David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD, FAACR, Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Center, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, and chief scientist for the Lustgarten Foundation. “He is a renowned physician-scientist and a distinguished national leader on biomedical research-related issues. He is admired and revered by countless members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, as well as the broader research and patient care community.”

Collins is the longest-serving head of the NIH since the position became a presidentially appointed one in 1971 following the signing of the National Cancer Act. He has led the agency under three U.S. presidents. He is lauded for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and for his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book.

“During the past 12 years as NIH Director, Dr. Collins has consistently communicated clear, science-based guidance to our elected leaders, and displayed a passion for supporting the professional advancement of young and emerging scientists,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR. “The entire medical research community is fortunate to have had Dr. Collins at the helm of the most important biomedical research institution in the world over such a critical period in our nation’s history. Under his leadership, the NIH has continued to be at the forefront of medical breakthroughs that have improved the well-being of millions and saved lives from countless human diseases, including cancer.”