Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health and an outspoken Christian, announced Tuesday that he will step down as director after serving in the role since 2009.
Collins was the longest-serving presidentially appointed NIH director, the organization says, having served under three U.S. presidents after his 2009 appointment by President Barack Obama. In expressing gratitude for his time as director, Collins said he “fundamentally” believes that “no single person should serve in the position too long, and that it’s time to bring in a new scientist to lead the NIH into the future.”
During his 12 year tenure, the NIH partnered with pharmaceutical companies to aid in the creation of an approved vaccine for COVID-19.
But Collins, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, differed from the Catholic Church’s teachings in his opinions regarding the use of fetal tissue of aborted babies in research. Earlier this year, he oversaw a rollback of a moratorium on new NIH research with aborted fetal tissue.
Collins has said he considers the question of whether it is ethical to use human embryos and aborted fetuses for research is an “important issue to think through carefully.”
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