Trump says he's keeping Dr. Francis Collins as NIH director

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The White House said in a statement on Tuesday, genetics pioneer Francis Collins will continue as director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. "I hope this appointment reflects President Trump's recognition that NIH-supported research has long set the standard in the world, and that it presages much-needed sustained increases in NIH budgets in the coming years", he says.

Collins, a medical doctor with advanced degrees in chemistry, was nominated to head the NIH by former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009.

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Shortly after he took office, Trump announced that Collins would stay on in an interim role, and many scientists have wondered if Collins would be offered the position or would accept it on a permanent basis in the new administration. Last month the president proposed a spending plan for the 2018 federal fiscal year, which starts October 1, that would reduce NIH program-level spending to $26.92 billion from $32.593 billion in the current federal fiscal year, down $5.673 billion or 17.4%.

The agency employs about 20,000 people, majority at its sprawling Bethesda, Md., campus, where scientists conduct cutting-edge research and treat patients who take part in efforts to develop new therapies. Roy Blunt of Missouri.

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Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. "The discoveries that they're making and the direction that they're moving in - nothing is as important as what we do there because it's about saving lives".

In retaining Dr. Collins, Trump rejected a request by some 40 members of Congress led by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) to replace the NIH director "with a director who is more aligned with the President's pro-life agenda".

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"I am honored to continue as the director of the National Institutes of Health and consider it a great privilege to serve at a time of unprecedented opportunity to advance health and relieve suffering through biomedical research", Collins said in a statement.

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