Two leading candidates to serve as director of the National Institutes of Health in the next administration met with President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday.
The president-elect met at Trump Tower with Dr. Francis Collins, the current NIH director, and Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland, who has expressed an interest in serving in the administration.
Collins, who has led the agency for eight years under President Barack Obama, previously told STAT he would be willing to stay on as director if asked by Trump. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who has advised Trump over the last year, also told STAT that Collins was under serious consideration.
Collins has been endorsed by several leading congressional Republicans, but some researchers outside Washington have urged Trump
to consider another candidate.
An obstetric anesthesiologist, Harris is the only member of Congress to have conducted NIH-funded research. He has advocated for lowering the average age of NIH grant recipients and said he would like to see more “high-risk, high-reward” research conducted by the agency.
Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley mogul, is said to be wielding influence on appointments to science and technology positions in the Trump administration. He also met with the president-elect on Wednesday. It is not known, however, whom he favors for NIH.