|NIH director Dr. Francis Collins presides over
what might have been his last ACD.
Presiding over what might have been his final
meeting as chair of the advisory committee
to the NIH director, Dr. Francis Collins
received an impromptu standing ovation
that left him visibly moved. It was Dec.
9—the second and final day of the group’s
deliberations. NIH principal deputy director
Dr. Larry Tabak had just outlined several
possible administration/HHS transition
scenarios, when various ACD members
raised questions about the status of the NIH
director position in the weeks just before and
after Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.
Collins explained that, like all political
appointees after a presidential election, he
had submitted a resignation letter, required
by law, to the President.
That’s when Dr. Brendan Lee of Baylor
College of Medicine, attending his first ACD
meeting, thanked Collins for his service
to the group, to NIH and to the medical
research community at large. Spontaneous,
rousing applause erupted, resulting in a
standing ovation around the table.
“This very likely being my last ACD
meeting,” Collins said after the adulation
subsided, “I want to give a shout-out to this
particular group—and their particularly
effective way of wrestling with difficult
issues. The members of the ACD have
worked tirelessly these last 7½ years and
given us at NIH the kind of advice we so
desperately needed from really wise people.
I’m grateful to all of you here and to all the
others who have sat around this table over
those years…It has been an amazing ride.”