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Cole Statement on Retirement of NIH Director Francis Collins

October 5, 2021
Press Release

Moore, OK – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) issued the following statement after it was announced that Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will retire at the end of 2021 after a 12-year tenure under three consecutive presidential administrations. Cole is the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that provides funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the NIH.

“It is with very mixed emotions that I learned of the retirement at the end of this year of Dr. Francis Collins, long-time director of the National Institutes of Health,” said Cole. “Naturally, I am pleased that someone who has worked so long and hard for the American people and for all of humanity is going to have an opportunity to take some time and smell the roses along the way. However, as a strong supporter and advocate of the NIH, I know how much he will be missed at the Institute, by the biomedical community, in the halls of Congress and amongst his scientific peers around the world.

“Dr. Collins has served with exceptional distinction. The only person appointed by three different presidents to directorship of the NIH, I have often called him the ‘best politician in Washington, D.C.’ Who else could be appointed by President Barack Obama, President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden? The fact that Dr. Francis Collins holds this unique distinction is a testament to the high regard in which he is held across the political spectrum.

“A brilliant scientist in his own right, no one matches the ability of Dr. Collins to marshal and focus the scientific community. His concentrated attention to the well-being and health of people all over the world are literally unmatched. During his tenure, Dr. Collins advocated for greater federal investment in the NIH’s budget, and he worked to advance many biomedical research initiatives focused on such ailments as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Indeed, his crowning achievement was probably the critical role he played in coordinating private and public efforts to produce the coronavirus vaccines that were the product of Operation Warp Speed. That effort alone has already saved millions of lives in America and around the world.

“I do not believe we have heard the last of Dr. Francis Collins. I have no doubt that future administrations of both parties will call upon him for his wise counsel, brilliant insights and exceptional public credibility. While I wish my good friend well in his retirement, I would suggest he not go far because I suspect his country will call upon his services again.”