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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Collins Named Acting Science Advisor to President Biden

Collins fist bumps Biden

President Joe Biden fistbumps Dr. Francis Collins last December when the commander-in-chief visited NIH. On Feb. 16, the White House announced that Collins will serve as the president’s acting science advisor.

Less than 2 months after stepping down as NIH director, Dr. Francis Collins was formally announced Feb. 16 by the White House as acting science advisor to President Biden.

“I’m honored to be asked to do this,” Collins said, in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd. “It wasn’t part of my life plan, but I do think public service is a privilege. It gives your life the kind of meaning that almost nothing else can. We’re all looking for that, aren’t we?”

Collins’s new chapter essentially involves oversight of four main goals: help find the next director of NIH, get the proposed Advanced Research Project Agency for Health (ARPA-H) over the finish line; assist in fleshing out the next phase of the Cancer Moonshot and co-chair (with Dr. Frances Arnold and Dr. Maria Zuber) the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). 

The science advisor post along with the Cabinet-level directorship of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) became vacant with the sudden resignation of Dr. Eric Lander. Both jobs are often held by one individual, but permanent appointment requires Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. In the interim, OSTP deputy director Dr. Alondra Nelson will perform the duties of OSTP director. Collins and Nelson will work closely together to be sure this transition is as seamless as possible.

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