News Brief

Former NIH Director Francis Collins Named Temporary Science Advisor to the President

Francis Collins in a white lab coat

CREDIT: CHIA-CHI “CHARLIE” CHANG

Former NIH Director Francis Collins was recently named temporary science advisor to President Joe Biden.

On February 16, 2022, President Joe Biden announced that Francis Collins and Alondra Nelson would temporarily replace U.S. Science Advisor Eric Lander, who resigned on February 7, 2022, after a White House investigation determined that he had violated the administration’s Safe and Respectful Workforce policy. Lander was the director of the Office of Science and Technology (OSTP), the science advisor to the president, and a co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

Collins, who retired as NIH director in December 2021, will temporarily perform the duties of science advisor to the president and be a co-chair of PCAST. Nelson, who is OSTP’s deputy director for science and society, will temporarily perform the duties of the OSTP director. They will serve in these roles until permanent leadership is nominated and confirmed.

“In the selections of Dr. Alondra Nelson and Dr. Francis Collins, President Biden has doubled down on science,” according to a White House Briefing statement. “The selections are responsive to the dual importance of a strong OSTP that can drive science and technology solutions to our greatest challenges—and the very specific attention the President wants to give to the creation of a new ARPA-H [Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health] research and discovery agency, the building of support for a Cancer Moonshot, the search for a new head of NIH, and the broad advisory work of PCAST.”