Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced his resignation on Tuesday, just weeks after documents exposed that he made “untruthful” comments about U.S. federal funding of gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“It has been an incredible privilege to lead this great agency for more than a decade,” Collins said in a statement posted at the NIH website.
I love this agency and its people so deeply that the decision to step down was a difficult one, done in close counsel with my wife, Diane Baker, and my family. I am proud of all we’ve accomplished. I fundamentally believe, however, 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. I’m most grateful and proud of the NIH staff and the scientific community, whose extraordinary commitment to lifesaving research delivers hope to the American people and the world every day.
Just weeks before this announcement, Richard Ebright of Rutgers University accused Collins of making false public statements about National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) grants to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), which have since been proven to fund the study of “chimeric SARS-related coronaviruses” which “could infect human cells.” Ebright said bluntly that Collins had not told the truth when asked about this research: “assertions by the NIH Director, Francis Collins, and the NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci, that the NIH did not support gain-of-function research or potential pandemic pathogen enhancement at WIV are untruthful.”
Appointed by President Obama in 2009, Francis Collins made history by becoming the longest-serving NIH director and one who also served in three administrations: Obama, Trump, and Biden. Prior to his tenure at the NIH, he founded The BioLogos Foundation, which aimed to bridge a dialogue between science and religion. In 2007, former President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work on the Human Genome Project.