Geneticist Francis Collins tapped to head NIH

President Obama has selected the world-famous geneticist Dr. Francis Collins (photo) to run the National Institutes of Health, a job that will give him enormous influence over how the government allocates more than $29 billion a year in research funds.

Dr. Collins rose to prominence as head of the Human Genome Project, taking a leading role in mapping the human genome and opening the door to a new era of personalized therapeutics. He was also one of the most accessible figures in the government's considerable scientific ranks, making himself available to explain the complexities of genetics in simple terms.

Collins' selection brings him back to the NIH, where he spent 15 years in charge of genomics research before departing last year. It also puts him at the pinnacle of a huge government agency that helps shape the future of the biotechnology industry as it dispenses billions of dollars in funds to research teams. Since Obama took office the new administration has helped engineer a bigger budget for the NIH after years of flat-line budgeting.

In the time since Collins departed the NIH he helped work on Obama's election campaign and also helped set up the BioLogos Foundation, which seeks to find ways to harmonize the worlds of religion and science.

- read the report from the Wall Street Journal