New NIH Director was Basil O'Connor Research Scholar

Washington, D.C. | Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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On August 7, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., as the next Director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Collins, former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, was named in 1985 by the March of Dimes as a Basil O'Connor Research Scholar when he received a grant the Foundation reserves for young investigators at the start of their independent careers.

Dr. Collins was instrumental in the discovery of the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis, thereby providing the opportunity to design interventions for managing this complex birth defect and accelerating the search for its amelioration and potential cure. As Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, Dr. Collins oversaw the sequencing and mapping of the human genome, a major contribution to scientific research and one that has already led to the development of strategies for preventing and treating various birth defects and hereditary diseases.

A letter of support for Dr. Collins’s nomination to the NIH was sent by March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer Howse to Senator Edward M. Kennedy and was published in the Congressional Record on August 7, 2009.

About March of Dimes

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs.

For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites and To participate in our annual signature fundraising event, visit If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our community to find comfort and support. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.