National Human Genome Research Institute
Bethesda, Md., Tues., Nov. 17, 2009 - After an extensive national search, Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced the appointment of Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D., to be director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of the 27 institutes and centers at NIH. It is the first time an institute director has risen to lead the entire NIH and subsequently picked his own successor.
Dr. Green is currently the NHGRI scientific director and director of the NHGRI Division of Intramural Research; he will become NHGRI director on Dec. 1. Dr. Collins led NHGRI from April 1993 until August 2008. Alan Guttmacher, M.D., NHGRI's deputy director, has served as acting NHGRI director since Dr. Collins's departure in August 2008.
"Dr. Green is the perfect choice to be NHGRI director. He grew up professionally with the genome era and has been on the cutting edge of genomics research for more than two decades," Dr. Collins said. "As NHGRI scientific director, Dr. Green has overseen spectacular growth and diversification of the institute's intramural research program. Some of his notable contributions include founding and ably directing for over a decade the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center (NISC), establishing the Social and Behavioral Research Branch and the NIH Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health, and helping to launch innovative programs such as the Undiagnosed Diseases Program."
In addition to directing NISC and the NHGRI intramural research program, Dr. Green has been chief of the Genome Technology Branch and head of that Branch's Physical Mapping Section. Since the early 1990s, Dr. Green's research program has been at the forefront of efforts to map, sequence and understand complex genomes. His work included significant, start-to-finish involvement in the Human Genome Project. More recently, Dr. Green established a program in comparative genomics that involves the generation and analyses of sequences from targeted genomic regions in evolutionarily diverse species. The resulting data have provided new insights about vertebrate genome organization and evolution, and revealed how conserved sequences can be used to identify important functional genomic elements.
"I am deeply honored to be selected as the NHGRI director at a time when the field has myriad exciting opportunities to advance numerous areas of biomedicine and to revolutionize medical care," Dr. Green said. "I am very fortunate to be given the opportunity to lead NHGRI while its previous director leads all of NIH — and in an administration that has tremendous support and appreciation for scientific research."
In addition to basic genomics research, his laboratory also investigates genetic contributions to human illness. His group has identified several human disease-related genes, including those implicated in certain forms of hereditary deafness, vascular disease and inherited peripheral neuropathy. Most recently, Dr. Green is leading a number of efforts that utilize contemporary strategies for large-scale DNA sequencing to study genomic variation among humans, especially those contributing to common diseases, and is involved in an NIH-based consortium that aims to understand the microbial communities that exist on human skin and how they contribute to health and disease.
"The Human Genome Project was a tremendous success and the research vision the NHGRI laid out at its completion in 2003 identified the key next steps to capitalize on the new knowledge about the human genome and to begin building a better foundation for using genetics to improve human health," Dr. Green said. "We are now reaping the bounty of that investment, gaining unprecedented insights about how the genome works in health and illness. My job going forward is to push the application of genomics into all areas of biomedical research, beyond NHGRI's boundaries, and find effective ways to collaborate with a wide range of researchers to translate genomic discoveries into medical advances."
Dr. Green has received numerous awards, including induction into the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 2002 and into the America Association of Physicians in 2007. He is an author on more than 240 scientific papers, is a founding editor of Genome Research in 1995, edited a series called Genome Analysis: A Laboratory Manual, and, since 2005, is co-editor of the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics.
Dr. Green is married and has two children. Though he now lives in Bethesda, Md., Dr. Green's deep St. Louis roots keep him an ardent St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan.
NHGRI is one of the 27 institutes and centers at the NIH, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. The NHGRI Division of Intramural Research develops and implements technology to understand, diagnose and treat genomic and genetic diseases. The NHGRI Division of Extramural Research supports grants for research and for training and career development at sites nationwide. Additional information about NHGRI can be found at its Web site, www.genome.gov.
The National Institutes of Health - "The Nation's Medical Research Agency" - includes 27 institutes and centers, and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more, visit www.nih.gov.
A high-resolution portrait of Dr. Green is available at www.genome.gov/dmd.
Larry Thompson, NHGRI
Geoff Spencer, NHGRI
Last Updated: August 1, 2012