President Trump Keeps Francis Collins as NIH Director

But agency faces big budget cuts

President Donald Trump has decided to keep Francis Collins as head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). That may be more of a curse than a blessing for Collins given that the president has also proposed slashing the agency’s budget by billions of dollars, according to a report posted on the FierceBiotech website.

Collins has led the NIH, the government’s largest biomedical research agency, since 2009. The agency has a staff of 20,000.

Last month, President Trump’s proposed federal budget outlined a plan to reduce NIH funding by approximately 20%, down from $31 billion in 2016 to $26 billion in FY 2018––a loss of approximately $5.8 billion. The NIH is also targeted for structural changes meant to reduce “indirect costs and preserve more funding for direct science.”

In addition, the president’s budget outlined a plan to close the NIH’s Fogarty International Center, although all federal staff will be retained. The proposed budget also seeks to consolidate the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality into the NIH, but the federal government will hold on to its discretionary $272 million funding.

As part of these changes, the article says, the NIH will be told to “conduct a review of health services research across NIH and develop a strategy to ensure the highest priority health services research is conducted and made available across the Federal Government.” The budget will also cut “lower priority” programs.

Source: FierceBiotech; June 7, 2017.