Rotimi Is New NHGRI Scientific Director
NIH distinguished investigator Dr. Charles Rotimi recently took the helm as NHGRI scientific director and leader of the NHGRI Intramural Research Program. A longstanding member of the institute’s IRP, he currently serves as director of the trans-NIH Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health and chief of NHGRI’s Metabolic, Cardiovascular and Inflammatory Disease Genomics Branch.
Rotimi has designed and led major basic science and clinical research projects in human genomics. He is a leader in the development of global genomics expertise and resources, acting as a vocal advocate for increased ancestral diversity in research participants and in the international scientific workforce. His expertise in the unique genomic diversity of African populations has helped advance several key genomics initiatives.
Notably, Rotimi engineered the successful engagement of African communities for the International Haplotype Mapping Project (HapMap) and was active in the 1,000 Genomes Project.
Together, those two projects revolutionized scientific understanding of the global distribution of common genomic variants and facilitated the large-scale implementation of genome-wide association studies.
Rotimi is perhaps most well-known for being a key architect and major participant in the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) Initiative, which is funded by NIH and Wellcome Trust and has greatly expanded genomics-based studies of human disease on the African continent.
As a leading genetic epidemiologist and genomics researcher with expertise in statistical genetics, computational science, biochemistry, health disparities and scientific management, Rotimi is well qualified to lead the NHGRI Intramural Research Program and ideally prepared to usher the IRP into its next phase. Rotimi has the distinction of being the first-ever African-born scientific director of an NIH institute.
Rotimi earned a bachelor’s degree in science from the University of Benin, Nigeria; a master’s in health care administration from the University of Mississippi, Oxford; and a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a member of three global academies: the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the African Academy of Sciences. He was the founding president of the African Society of Human Genetics and is the 2021 president-elect and 2022 president of the American Society of Human Genetics. He has received dozens of awards and recognitions, contributed to several books and co-authored more than 300 scientific papers.
NHGRI’s IRP supports more than 50 investigators conducting a wide range of research at the forefront of genomics. Rotimi took the reins as scientific director on Oct. 10, 2021—precisely 11 years to the day after Dr. Dan Kastner took that baton from Dr. Eric Green, who served as the NHGRI scientific director from 2002-2011.
An NIH distinguished investigator, Kastner will continue his physician-scientist role at the institute, after leading NHGRI’s IRP for more than a decade through a productive growth phase in both scientific depth and breadth.