NIH director Dr. Francis Collins (c) meets with third-year PRAT fellows (from l) Dr. Kentner Singleton, Dr. Karl Erlandson, Dr. Stephen Parker and Dr. Christine Jao.
Photo: Bill Branson
In a keynote address to the graduating class of NIGMS Postdoctoral Research Associate (PRAT) fellows on June 2, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins shared a personal story few may know: He nearly passed up the offer to lead the Human Genome Project. Collins urged the 46th class of PRAT fellows not to shy away from leadership opportunities, as he almost had.
“Your community may need you,” he told them. “You have exceptional talents.”
Following the address, the third-year fellows presented their research on topics ranging from viral drug resistance to the genetic control of autoimmune responses.
PRAT fellows work with intramural investigators who provide intensive mentoring. Collins is a mentor himself, to Dr. Stephen Parker, one of the four graduating fellows.
Despite Collins’ many commitments, Parker said the NIH director is fully engaged in his preceptor role. “When you talk to him, you feel like you’re the most important person to him at that moment. [Later] he would remember some little detail about my research that I told him months before, and remind me of it.”
According to Dr. Jessica Faupel-Badger, who directs the PRAT program, “This class of fellows joins a long list of distinguished PRAT alumni, many of whom have achieved senior leadership positions in academia, industry and government. I look forward to seeing where our newest alumni make their marks.”
More information about the PRAT program is available at www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/Pages/PRAT.aspx.