Former Human Genome Project leader Francis Collins will be nominated to lead the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

“Dr. Collins is one of the top scientists in the world,” President Obama said in a White House statement today. “And his groundbreaking work has changed the very ways we consider our health and examine disease.” 

The 59-year-old Collins, who led the NIH’s genome research division for 15 years, was also involved in the research that uncovered genes for numerous diseases, including cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease, notes Bloomberg News.

Many point to his explanatory powers as another key facet of his nomination. “The real advantage he brings is the ability to translate deep and complex science to the lay population,” said American Heart Association president, Clyde Yancy, reports the Associated Press.

Collins also founded BioLogos, which advocates for a closer union of religious faith and science, and authored the 2006 book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

He had been fingered as a likely pick this spring.

Collins co-authored an article in Scientific American about the human genome in 1999 and another about mapping cancer genes in 2007. He was profiled in a 1998 issue. 

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