In The Field

AAAS 2010: Six snippets from Francis Collins

His first six months as director of NIH have “been a wild ride”.

If he had an anxiety it’s how the NIH is going to support all the investigators heading for a funding cliff when the two-year federal stimulus grants run out. “There is no question we will once again see a difficult time,” he says. “That’s what keeps me up at night”.

“If I were starting today” as a scientist in high school or college, “I’d be in computational biology”. Nowadays anyone can crank out the data but it’s all about sorting out what it means.

There are some “radical” projects that “put meat on the bones” of systems biology, to be unveiled next week when the NIH announces some new Common Fund projects.

“Genetics is not that hard — thank God — not like neuroscience or immunology”. (This said in response to a question about how to improve the genetics literacy of the medical profession.)

He’d like to come up with more opportunities to “skip the post-doc” and go straight from PhD to independent lab.


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