U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price announced Thursday the resignation of Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health who has been credited with restoring credibility to the agency after a history of controversies and missteps.
“Dr. Collins brought a patient, focused, collaborative approach to the Agency, leading the NIH through a process of reform at a critical moment in history,” Dr. Price said in a written statement. “While I respect Dr. Collins’s decision, I respect his determination to leave NIH in good hands.”
Nicolle Devenish, a deputy director at the N.I.H., will serve as acting director, the department said. Ms. Devenish previously served as the associate director of the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Collins has served as director since 2010. He was tapped to lead the agency in 2006 by then-President George W. Bush. During his tenure, the N.I.H. developed cancer-specific treatment protocols for the early treatment of cancer, rolled out automatic pap smears and became a model for integrating health data.
And, last December, Dr. Collins noted that the agency was one of five “triage sites” where the doctor who first diagnosed the Ebola virus kept in contact with the patients in West Africa.
The appointment of Dr. Devenish, a physician, will bring additional diversity to the governing body of the agency, which has long faced criticism from conservative groups for its funding policies that support largely white and male institutions.