President Obama has chosen geneticist Francis Collins to head the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and geophysicist Marcia McNutt to lead the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Both nominations are subject to Senate confirmation.

Dr. Francis Collins is perhaps best known as a leader of the Human Genome Project. Collins served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of NIH, from 1993 until August 2008. During this time, he led a team of researchers racing to complete sequencing of the entire human genome. Upon completion of the project in 2000, Collins led the development of a haplotype map of the human genome to aid in the identification of genetic markers of disease risk. Collins has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University and an M.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Marcia McNutt has served as CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute since 1997. She was previously director of the Joint Program in Oceanography and Applied Ocean Science and Engineering, a program jointly offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. During the Clinton Administration, McNutt chaired the President’s Panel on Ocean Exploration. Her research has included work on ocean island volcanism and continental break-up. McNutt has a Ph.D. in earth sciences from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California. If confirmed, McNutt would be the first woman to head USGS.


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