Jonathan Moreno, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and David and Lyn Silfen University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, applauds President Barack Obama’s announcement that he intends to nominate Dr. Francis Collins as director of the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Collins is a world-renowned leader in biomedical research who led the government’s Human Genome Project, which decoded the DNA sequence that forms the basis of human life and opened pathways to understanding how we develop, how genes influence illness, and how medicine can harness genetics to diagnose and cure disease.
"I’ve known Francis for many years and have observed close up his deep understanding that American science needs to be informed by our values," said Moreno. "No one else possesses the remarkable combination of qualities he brings to this important position.
“His tenure as director of National Human Genome Research Institute was remarkable for its inclusivity and for how as director he went out of his way to make sure that all points of view were represented around the table on important points of science and medicine,” Moreno added. “He was always mindful that his strong personal convictions and faith remained just that—personal—and that science and medical policy reflected the best interests of the public well-being, not a political or religious ideology. I’m confident these same qualities will garner him the goodwill and support of Congress and the confidence of the American people, and will mark his leadership at NIH.”
At the National Human Genome Research Institute, Dr. Collins demonstrated a progressive dedication to our nation’s continued investment in the scientific research and innovation that powers our economy, improves our quality of life and well-being, and expands our knowledge of the natural world. His expertise in genomics will be a key asset as we move into an era of personalized medicine.
Dr. Collins is an outspoken man of science and an outspoken man of faith. His commitment to each framework of human understanding is emblematic of the pluralistic ethos of the United States. Indeed, a recent survey released by the Pew Center for People and the Press indicates that 61 percent of Americans see no conflict between science and their religious beliefs. As a researcher, his work has revealed the genetic basis of ailments ranging from cystic fibrosis to Huntington’s disease. As a citizen, he has worked to educate others about the fact that science and religion are not in opposition.
If confirmed by the Senate, Dr. Collins will no doubt support progressive approaches to research and innovation that embrace both science and ethics.
Jonathan D. Moreno is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Editor-in-Chief of Science Progress. He was a member of President Barack Obama’s transition team for the Department of Health and Human Services.