Francis Collins Nominated to Head NIH

Last week, President Barack Obama nominated physician and geneticist Francis Collins as the next Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) [1]. From 1993 — 2008, Dr. Collins was the first Director of the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). He led the U.S. government’s Human Genome Project, which decoded the DNA sequence of 20,000 — 25,000 genes.


In the past, Collins’ research laboratory at the University of Michigan has identified a number of important genes, including those responsible for neurofibromatosis, cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease and genes for adult onset (type 2) diabetes. More recently, Collins has been a proponent of personalized medicine or genomic medicine, which leverages specific genetic knowledge for the delivery of effective healthcare. Medscape interviewed him about genomic research and personalized medicine two years ago, where he said that incorporating individualized medicine into the mainstream will necessitate a change in healthcare economics. As NIH Director he will undoubtedly have a voice in the ongoing healthcare reform debate in Washington.

In his announcement on Wednesday, President Obama said [1]:

The National Institutes of Health stands as a model when it comes to science and research. My administration is committed to promoting scientific integrity and pioneering scientific research and I am confident that Dr. Francis Collins will lead the NIH to achieve these goals. Dr. Collins is one of the top scientists in the world, and his groundbreaking work has changed the very ways we consider our health and examine disease. I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.

Encephalon #58 – Decision Making

Welcome to the 58th edition of Encephalon, where we highlight some of the best neuroscience and psychology blog posts from around the blogosphere. This edition includes 20 articles on a variety of interesting topics, including intelligence, belief, neurodegeneration, multi-tasking, memory, grief and consciousness.

There’s a revolution occurring on the Web: those “authoritative” articles written on traditional, static websites are being replaced with blogs, wikis and online social networks. In the sphere of health, medicine and information technology, this “real-time Web” consists of many who are professionals in the field; their posts are listed below.
In the digital age, these are the characteristics of new media: recent, relevant, reachable and reliable.

This edition of Encephalon coincides with the historic 44th U.S. Presidential election. As with every election, voters had to decide which candidate for whom to cast their ballot. Although a recent brain-imaging study found that voting decisions are more associated with the brain’s response to negative aspects of a politician’s appearance than to positive ones [1], many other sources of information come into play when we make important and complex decisions. Indeed, studies have shown that decision making is largely an unconscious process [2], in which a set of attributes, including needs, preferences, values and emotions, shape our response to sensory input.

Will there be engaging and thought-provoking articles below? Will each of us learn something new as we read through the posts? Will this edition of Encephalon be successful?

Let’s move through each of the attributes and shape our response to these questions.