Dr. Alan E. Guttmacher has been named as the seventh director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
“As a pediatrician, geneticist and highly regarded leader at NIH over the last decade, Alan has the experience and the vision to lead the NICHD during what promises to be the most exciting time for science as well as for women’s and children’s health,’’ said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, who made the appointment.
“The NICHD’s research encompasses the life span,” Guttmacher said. “Its mission includes ensuring that every person is born healthy and wanted, that all children have the chance to achieve their full potential for healthy and productive lives, that couples are able to achieve the family size they desire, that childbearing is safe for all women and that optimal rehabilitation
[from injury or disease] is available to all who need it.”
Guttmacher joined NICHD as its acting director in December 2009. Previously, he served as acting
director of NHGRI, beginning in 2008, after serving as NHGRI deputy director since 2002.
As NICHD acting director, he began the process of developing a scientific vision for the institute.
The process seeks to identify the most promising scientific opportunities across the institute’s mission in the coming decade. It is not intended as a review of NICHD’s current programs, but a means to identify those areas with the greatest potential for scientific progress
and improving public health.
“Rather than building incrementally on current
research portfolios, the process will help us identify those areas having the greatest potential
in the decade ahead,” Guttmacher said.
To develop the plan, NICHD staff will work with scientists from multiple disciplines and seek input from a broad array of individuals and groups with an interest in the institute’s mission. In a series of workshops and meetings
beginning in the fall, they will examine 9 themes encompassing the NICHD mission: development, plasticity, cognition, behavior, reproduction, pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes,
developmental origins of health and disease, environment and diagnostics and therapeutics.
“The ultimate goal is to set an ambitious agenda
that inspires the NICHD, its many partners and the research community to achieve critical scientific goals and meet pressing public health needs,” Guttmacher said.
He came to NIH from the University of Vermont,
where he directed the department of pediatrics’ Vermont Regional Genetics Center and Pregnancy Risk Information Service. He served as medical director of the Vermont Newborn
Screening Program, founded Vermont’s only pediatric intensive care unit and co-directed
the Vermont Cancer Center’s Familial Cancer Program. Guttmacher is a member of the Institute
of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.