Durbin Statement On NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement after Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced he has decided to end his tenure at NIH by the end of the year:

“We should measure the legacy of Dr. Francis Collins not in years served, but in lives saved and suffering spared. From his breakthrough work in mapping the human genome to his tireless battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, Francis Collins has shown us that brilliance and common sense are powerful antidotes to the most challenging medical threats.

“I will miss my friend, Francis Collins, but I am honored to have played a small part in funding his historic work.”

Over the past six years, Durbin worked on a bipartisan basis—and with considerable assistance and input from Dr. Collins—to increase NIH’s budget by more than 40 percent, from $30 billion in Fiscal Year 2015, to approximately $43 billion today. Durbin, who is Co-Chair of the Senate NIH Caucus, has introduced the American Cures Act and the American Innovation Act, a pair of bills that have provided the framework for annual, five percent funding increases for our nation’s medical and scientific agencies and programs, including the NIH.

Dr. Collins served three U.S. presidents for more than 12 years. A physician-geneticist, he took office as the 16th NIH director on August 17, 2009, after being appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. In 2017, he was asked to continue in his role by President Donald Trump, and in 2021, by President Joe Biden. Prior to becoming the NIH director, Dr. Collins served as the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) from 1993-2008, where he led the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book.