‘AN AMAZING RIDE’
ACD Applauds Collins, Meets New Clinical Center CEO

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins presides over what might have been his last ACD.
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.”

Read more
Physician Gives Hope, Healing to World’s Poor

Dr. Paul Farmer gives annual Barmes Lecture.
Dr. Paul Farmer gives annual Barmes Lecture.

Dr. Paul Farmer has spent decades providing medical care and expanding health access to the world’s poor, shattering the myth that it’s untenable to treat the sick in settings of privation. Treating underserved populations is not a pipe dream, Farmer said, when you have “the staff, stuff, space and systems” to make it a reality.

When Farmer last spoke at NIH 7 years ago, he showed a blueprint for a modern hospital in central Haiti. Many skeptics thought it would never get built. When he recently delivered the annual NIDCR/FIC David E. Barmes Global Health Lecture to a packed Masur Auditorium, he proudly showed a photo of University Hospital, the largest solar-powered hospital in the developing world. It was built by Partners In Health, the nonprofit he co-founded 30 years ago in central Haiti, which now works in 10 countries around the world.

Read more