As the director of the nation’s foremost biomedical research engine, NIH Director Francis Collins is ready to take on the tough task of finding solutions to the opioid epidemic—which was responsible for the deaths of more than 33,000 Americans in 2015 alone, reports Julia Lurie.
“Collins made a name for himself in the early 2000s when, as director of the Human Genome Project, he oversaw the completion of sequencing some 25,000 genes,” says Lurie.
Last month, Collins announced a new public-private working partnership between the NIH and several biomedical and pharmaceutical companies as a means of developing much-needed treatments to end the crisis. An Obama appointee, Collins has already entered into such partnerships to tackle Alzheimer’s, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis but, Lurie notes, the “jury’s still out on results.”
During a recent interview, Collins explained to Lurie that without the full engagement by the private sector, who makes the pills, no matter how much “good science” the NIH accomplishes, a successful outcome is unlikely unless government and industry work together.