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Celebrating NIH Science, Blogs, and Blog Readers!

Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins

Happy holidays to one and all! As you may have heard, this is my last holiday season as the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—a post that I’ve held for the past 12 years and four months under three U.S. Presidents. And, wow, it really does seem like only yesterday that I started this blog!

At the blog’s outset, I said my goal was to “highlight new discoveries in biology and medicine that I think are game changers, noteworthy, or just plain cool.” More than 1,100 posts, 10 million unique visitors, and 13.7 million views later, I hope you’ll agree that goal has been achieved. I’ve also found blogging to be a whole lot of fun, as well as a great way to expand my own horizons and share a little of what I’ve learned about biomedical advances with people all across the nation and around the world.

So, as I sign off as NIH Director and return to my lab at NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), I want to thank everyone who’s ever visited this Blog—from high school students to people with health concerns, from biomedical researchers to policymakers. I hope that the evidence-based information that I’ve provided has helped and informed my readers in some small way.

In this my final post, I’m sharing a short video (see above) that highlights just a few of the blog’s many spectacular images, many of them produced by NIH-funded scientists during the course of their research. In the video, you’ll see a somewhat quirky collection of entries, but hopefully you will sense my enthusiasm for the potential of biomedical research to fight human disease and improve human health—from innovative immunotherapies for treating cancer to the gift of mRNA vaccines to combat a pandemic.

Over the years, I’ve blogged about many of the bold, new frontiers of biomedicine that are now being explored by research teams supported by NIH. Who would have imagined that, within the span of a dozen years, precision medicine would go from being an interesting idea to a driving force behind the largest-ever NIH cohort seeking to individualize the prevention and treatment of common disease? Or that today we’d be deep into investigations of precisely how the human brain works, as well as how human health may benefit from some of the trillions of microbes that call our bodies home?

My posts also delved into some of the amazing technological advances that are enabling breakthroughs across a wide range of scientific fields. These innovative technologies include powerful new ways of mapping the atomic structures of proteins, editing genetic material, and designing improved gene therapies.

So, what’s next for NIH? Let me assure you that NIH is in very steady hands as it heads into a bright horizon brimming with exceptional opportunities for biomedical research. Like you, I look forward to discoveries that will lead us even closer to the life-saving answers that we all want and need.

While we wait for the President to identify a new NIH director, Lawrence Tabak, who has been NIH’s Principal Deputy Director and my right arm for the last decade, will serve as Acting NIH Director. So, keep an eye out for his first post in early January!

As for me, I’ll probably take a little time to catch up on some much-needed sleep, do some reading and writing, and hopefully get out for a few more rides on my Harley with my wife Diane. But there’s plenty of work to do in my lab, where the focus is on type 2 diabetes and a rare disease of premature aging called Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome. I’m excited to pursue those research opportunities and see where they lead.

In closing, I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to each of you for your interest in hearing from the NIH Director—and supporting NIH research—over the past 12 years. It’s been an incredible honor to serve you at the helm of this great agency that’s often called the National Institutes of Hope. And now, for one last time, Diane and I take great pleasure in sending you and your loved ones our most heartfelt wishes for Happy Holidays and a Healthy New Year!


  • Beth Powers says:

    You will be missed by.a grateful country. I am glad for you and for patients everywhere to hear that you are staying with the NIH. The world needs scientists like you who are not only brilliant but also guided by the loving kindness of Jesus Christ.

    • Simone says:

      I am a teacher, not a scientist, but I am always looking forward to reading the newsletter and learning from it. To add to Beth Powers’ comment, I think scientists have their own skills and ethics that guide them, whatever their beliefs or no beliefs…

  • NORMAN S. LEVY, MD, PhD says:

    A giant has retired. What does he plan to do NOW? We are all watching.

    • Simone says:

      Norma, Dr Collins wrote he is returning to his lab at the NHGR institute. I am sure we will, indirectly, hear from him.

  • Jonathan M. Gordon,M.D. says:

    Thanks so much for your informative blogs and wise leadership.

  • Christi says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you

  • Leslie Smith says:

    Thank you Dr. Collins! It has been an absolute pleasure reading and learning from your Blog. I looked forward to reading it so very much and sharing it with others. Wishing you many blessings and much joy in you Lab and on your Harley!

  • sharon s zeilstra says:

    Dr Collins, you are an amazing example of a fully actualized human being, contributing to our community in an abundance of ways with joy and zeal. Thank you for being an inspiration and role model.

    Best wishes for your ongoing research projects, too.

  • Dea & Teryn Suhr says:

    We personally, the MLD Family™, the entire rare disease community … and mankind are so blessed to have benefited from your time in the lab and as Director of the NIH. We look forward to our next encounter with you and your rock, Diane.

  • Zuccheri Gianni says:

    Science … is not just geniality,

    it is also a way of life,
    a way of feeling:
    it has its own beauty that infuses beneficial effects and emotions given by continuous discoveries.

    Thanks Dr. Collins for this post too!

  • Irena Sadowska-Jurkowska says:

    Super Director and super blog. God bless You. Good luck! I feel honored that I could read you from Poland.

  • James Hundley says:

    Thank you, Dr. Collins, for bringing us information on the great work being done at the NIH. We will miss you.

  • Michael Oberdorfer, Ph.D. says:

    Thank you for your the strength of your leadership during an incredibly challenging tenure.

  • Adrian Gardner says:

    Dr. Collins- thank you for your tremendous scientific and moral leadership! I will never forget what a privilege it was to meet you when you visited the AMPATH program in Eldoret, Kenya. We all appreciate your commitment to global health (through Fogarty and many other institutes) and the lessons we can all learn from innovations developed in resource-limited settings. You have certainly left us better than you found us–you will be missed! Congratulations and all the best!

  • Rose Walker says:

    Thank you…you are truly unique!! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and may you continue to grow in wisdom! From somebody you will never know, but who thinks you are amazing!

  • David Brooks says:

    Thank you for your informative blogs, they have been engines of hope. And thank you for not completely disappearing; wishing you’ll write it, I look forward to your NHGRI Blog! Hoping your progeria work leads us to new, unasked questions. And, Dr. Collins, thank you for your accurate and sincere testimonies during Congressional Hearings (CSPAN). Please be safe on your Harley, we need you at NHGRI. And keep your guitar around!

  • Tom Horvath MD FRACP says:

    My granddaughter, an aspiring medical student, and I, a neuropsychiatrist and hospital director, usually eagerly waited for your comments. At a different level, as a hospital and science administrator, have long admired your work at NIH and at Human Genome Project. Finally as a person of faith. I am humbled by your faith that must have helped in dealing with three of the most complex presidents we had the (mis) fortune to deal with. God shepherd you on your further journey and be careful on that Hog!!

  • Marinelle Payton, MD, PHD, MS, MPH says:

    Dr. Collins, thank you for your leadership at the National Institutes of Health and for making a difference in the public’s health.

  • Karen says:

    Thank you Dr. Collins. Our family are so grateful for you and your work and we wish you all the best!

  • Rick Stanley says:

    Dr. Collins, every decade or so the world gets gifted with a person who will change the future forever. History will record that you are one of those persons. Your accomplishments, built on the hard work of others who share your passion have affected millions of people and will provide the basis for the next set of scientists who will take up your baton and carry it forward. And I know from personal experience you are a kind and caring individual who gives of himself selflessly. I pray that your next chapter will be fulfilling for you and that you feel the kind of satisfaction that you deserve for all that you’ve given us.

    Godspeed Dr.Collins.

  • Tobin Boslaugh says:

    Dr. Collins, from a recent admirer and follower, thanks for all you’ve done to inspire frontline hospital workers like me into the world of research. Director or no, it’s clear we’re all going to keep following you! And please more “Yesterday” covers with N.T.!

  • Earl Freeman says:

    Great job Mr. Collins! You will be missed. Happy holidays to you and yours!

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