December 10, 2021

VUMC expresses appreciation to NIH director Francis Collins on his retirement 

VUMC joins health leaders from across the country in applauding Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., for his 12-plus years of service as director of the National Institutes of Health.

Collins, a physician-geneticist and the longest serving presidentially appointed NIH director, will retire at the end of the year. Since his appointment in August 2009, the annual NIH budget has increased by nearly 38%, to $41.3 billion in 2021, according to United for Medical Research (URM).

UMR is a coalition of leading research institutions including VUMC and Vanderbilt University, patient and health advocates and private industry that supports steady and sustainable increases in NIH funding “to save and improve lives, advance innovation and fuel the economy.”

In addition to focusing on the nation’s most pressing health issues, from cancer and Alzheimer’s disease to opioid use disorder and the COVID-19 pandemic, last year NIH research funding supported 536,338 jobs and drove more than $91 billion in economic activity, UMR said.

Several leaders praise Collins’ accomplishments in a tribute video produced by UMR. Among them are Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of VUMC and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and Lawrence Marnett, PhD, Dean of Basic Sciences in the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Collins, says Marnett, “never lost sight of the mission of the NIH to support fundamental research in order to improve human health.”

Balser notes that Collins’ leadership “fostered decades of progress, not only in remarkably expanded research opportunities, but through an expanded vision of what science can accomplish in health and disease … We, your colleagues, and this nation are forever grateful,” he says.

The video can be viewed here.