National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins is planning to announce his resignation from the agency on Tuesday, three people familiar with the matter told Politico. He will step down by the end of the year, The Washington Post adds.
Collins, 71, has led the NIH for the last 12 years, making him the longest-serving director and the first to be part of more than one presidential administration. A graduate of the medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Collins is a physician-geneticist who identified the genetic mutations for cystic fibrosis. He was an atheist, but converted to Christianity as a young adult, and in 2006 he wrote the book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.
During the coronavirus pandemic, he has crafted some of his pro-vaccine messaging for religious Americans. In September, he referred to the vaccine as "what you could call an answer to a prayer," adding, "why wouldn't you say, 'Thank you, God,' and roll up your sleeve?"
Collins previously led the National Human Genome Research Institute, where he was in charge of the international project to map the human genome. In 2007, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from former President George W. Bush, with his White House saying this "monumental advance in scientific knowledge has begun to unlock some of the great mysteries of human life and has created the potential to develop treatments and cures for some of the most serious diseases."