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Celebrating NIH Science, Blogs, and Blog Readers!

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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!

47 Comments

  • Ken says:

    Thanks for giving this information.
    This blog is the best way. Your choices: social media, knowledging.

  • Patricia Strubbe says:

    Thank you for your service from deepest Congo where I showed one of your EM photos of Small bowel Villae to a patient of mine with short bowel syndrome

  • Eric Cipriano says:

    Thank you, Dr. Collins – for helping us move forward during uncertain, stressful, and challenging times. The blogs have informed, guided, calmed, and inspired many of us to stay true to the scientific method of discovery, growth, and change. Keep us curious, caring, and courageous!

  • Joan Fox says:

    We have all been so fortunate to have you lead the NIH, thank you. I am so happy to hear you will be going back to your lab!

  • Terry Korzan MT(ASCP) says:

    Thank you for all of the great educational information in your blogs over the years. Thank you also for your leadership and direction during this pandemic. We owe you so much for that! We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

  • Beth Sanborn says:

    Thank you for your leadership and very interesting blog posts. God bless you and may you have a wonderful Christmas celebration.

  • Inge Schuster says:

    Thank you so much for all you did in science and also for your great blog!
    In 2016, I received your permission to put a German version of your blog articles on ScienceBlog.at. In the meantime, 32 of your articles entered my blog – a broad spectrum from brain to structures, genetics and in the last two years to COVID (listed in: https://scienceblog.at/francis-s-collins).
    Many, many thanks and all the best and much success in future!

  • Lynne Berdanier says:

    Hi Dr. Collins- Congratulations on taking the self directed step of retirement! I will miss your posts on your many topics but I am happy that you left such a positive legacy! May you, your wife and your lab enjoy many happy years together.

  • Anand Rao says:

    Thank you for your service, Dr. Collins! Always looked forward to reading your very informative blog.
    Happy trails!

  • Helga Magargal MD says:

    Thank you for all that I have learned from your always interesting blogs and for the hope that they have brought.
    I wish you good fortune in all your future endeavors and may God Bless you and yours.
    Merry Christmas.

  • AWB says:

    Thanks for this blog

  • Elizabeth F Newberry says:

    Congratulations, Dr. Francis Collins, on all the amazing accomplishments of the last 12 years at NIH. Thank you for your leadership and your dedication to the well being of human beings across the globe.

  • James Giordano says:

    Thank you Dr. Collins for being a man of integrity and faithfulness. I’m simply a fellow American living across the country in Turner, Oregon. I don’t know you personally but I have great admiration for you and am so thankful for your voice and service to this country. May the Lord make the coming years your most fruitful yet. May He bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you and give you peace.

  • Elijah Ackhurst says:

    Well, this is an awesome post and written very well. Your point of view is very good.

  • Patsy says:

    Mele Kalikimaka.
    May 2022 bring to light all sorts of mysteries of the human genome to those who venture forth with true intent. It is wonder how much difference a single nucleotide change can sometimes make in the balance of things. The shoreline of where science interacts with the general public has all sorts of nuances not obvious at first glance.

  • madhavi k. says:

    Thank you for all of the Best educational information in your blogs over the years . . .

  • Raysal Rana says:

    Congratulations, Dr. Francis Collins, on all the amazing accomplishments of the last 12 years at NIH.

  • Jeff Fitzsimmons says:

    Dear Dr Collins, we should all be thanking you for your service and dedication to our country and the world. I was just re-reading your 2006 book on “The language of God” and was so impressed by your efforts to make science and religion move forward using a common framework. I have read many of the books you cite and have a growing collection on God and evolution. I believe, like you, that there is a place for a reading of the Bible as a spiritual guide more than a literal account of ancient history. Again, I thank you for your guidance which has helped me grow in my spiritual path. God Bless you and your family in your retirement.

  • Tirsit+Mogues says:

    Thank you. I wish you and your family a merry Christmas and the coming year full of good news, revelations in your research. Peace on Earth.

  • Dianne Murphy says:

    Your candor, kindness, humility, genius and humor are overshadowed only by your mean guitar playing. Under your steady hand the scientific community has had much confidence in a time of much turmoil.
    You WILL be missed at the helm.
    Dianne Murphy, MD, FAAP

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