Obama Selects Academy Members for Key Positions
July 14, 2009 -- President Barack Obama recently announced his nominees for National Institutes of Health director, surgeon general, and the director of the U.S. Geological Survey; all nominees are members of the National Academy of Sciences and/or the Institute of Medicine.
Director of the National Institutes of Health
Physician-geneticist Francis Collins has been selected to serve as the director of the NIH, in Bethesda, Md. As director he will oversee a budget in excess of $30 billion, 27 institutes and centers, and a staff of more than 18,000, including 6,000 research scientists. Collins is best known for his landmark discoveries of disease genes including cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease, and his leadership of the Human Genome Project, the publicly funded effort to map human DNA. Collins was elected to the IOM in 1991 and to the NAS in 1993.
U.S. Surgeon General
Family physician Regina Benjamin has been selected to serve as the nation’s top public health official, the surgeon general. In this role, she will oversee the operations of the 6,000-member Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. Benjamin earned a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" in 2008 for her accomplishments in bringing health care to impoverished patients in coastal Alabama through her nonprofit Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic. Elected to the IOM in 1997, Benjamin has served on several study committees focused on improving the quality of health care, including a report on caring for cancer survivors. Most recently she has been a member of IOM's committee on communities' medical readiness for emergency situations.
Director of the U.S. Geological Survey
Geophysicist Marcia McNutt, currently president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, has been nominated to head the U.S. Geological Survey. The agency's 8,800 employees monitor earthquakes and geologic activity, estimate gas and oil reserves, predict water supplies, and study climate change. McNutt is chair of the National Research Council’s Ocean Studies Board and has served on over 25 committees at the National Academies. She is one of five members of the NAS governing Council's committee on publications, which oversees publication of the Academy's weekly research journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. McNutt was elected to the NAS in 2005.
Director of the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy
On June 30, physicist William F. Brinkman joined the Obama administration as DOE’s new director of the Office of Science. Brinkman brings to the post decades of experience in managing scientific research in government, academia, and the private sector. Prior to his appointment, he was senior research physicist at Princeton University where he played an important role in organizing and guiding the physics department's condensed matter group. Brinkman served as committee member for many Academies studies, including America's Energy Future, a comprehensive study of energy options available to the U.S. Brinkman was elected to the NAS in 1984.
These nominees are the most recent group of Academy members asked to serve in the Obama administration. Read about several other presidential appointments of Academy members.