The University Record, April 12, 1993

Collins to head National Center for Human Genome Research

By Cindy Fox Aisen
Medical Center Public Relations

Francis S. Collins, co-discoverer of the genes for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis and Huntington’s disease, has been named to head the National Center for Human Genome Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His appointment was announced April 7 by Donna Shalala, secretary of Health and Human Services.

Collins, professor of internal medicine and human genetics, will take a leave of absence from the faculty, but has resigned his positions as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and director of the University’s Human Genome Center.

“Dr. Collins’ departure to head the NIH Human Genome Project represents a great loss to the University,” said President James J. Duderstadt. “However, all the world will continue to gain from his outstanding leadership and research expertise. We wish him all the best as he continues his work at the national level.”

George D. Zuidema, vice provost for medical affairs, noted that Collins has been “an exceptional colleague in advancing Michigan’s programs in molecular genetics and gene therapy. We are confident that because of the commitment of the University, the Medical Center and private sponsors such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute that Michigan will continue to be a leader in molecular genetics and gene therapy.”

Medical School Dean Giles G. Bole is “pleased that Francis will continue to make the University of Michigan Medical Center his ‘academic home’ and we have granted him a leave of absence from his faculty appointment.”

Collins takes over leadership of the human genome program at a pivotal time in the program’s history. While the progress of the human genome project to date has been excellent, Collins thinks it is time to establish new goals for the next five years and hopes to have a new agenda defined by late summer.

His plans include creating an intramural program in human genetics that will increase funding and laboratory space and attract talented researchers to the NIH campus.

Collins will continue to pursue research in genetic diseases. He and his colleagues currently are seeking the gene responsible for familial breast cancer.