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Duke's Klotman is under consideration as the next NIH head
  The White House is considering at least one other candidate in a process likely to play out over several weeks, officials say
Wash Post
May 4, 2022
Mary Klotman, a Duke University scientist and senior leader, is a strong contender to be the next director of the National Institutes of Health, according to three people with knowledge of the selection.
A physician known for her research into HIV, Klotman has served as dean of the Duke University School of Medicine since 2017. She has had conversations with several senior administration officials, said the three people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the selection.
If selected by President Biden and confirmed by the Senate, she would replace Francis S. Collins, who stepped down as NIH director last year but returned to government this year to advise Biden on science policy. Lawrence A. Tabak, a longtime federal official, has served as the agency's interim head since Collins's departure.
The White House declined to comment on the search process. The Biden administration is considering at least one other candidate in a process likely to play out over several weeks, said two officials with knowledge of the process who were not authorized to discuss it. Klotman did not respond to an email seeking comment.
The NIH is the largest funder of biomedical research in the world. With a budget of $45 billion in 2022, 80 percent of which is dispersed to outside researchers in academic institutions or other laboratories, the agency is hugely important in underwriting the research that leads to fundamental discoveries. It also plays a key role in shaping the scientific workforce.
The pandemic has catapulted its work into public awareness. The agency played a key role in developing coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics. Its leaders, including former director Collins and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci, have played major roles answering questions about the nation's response to the evolving crisis.
The agency has also increasingly become a political target as a result of the pandemic, with some Republicans aggressively scrutinizing NIH's policies on virus research, and focusing on an NIH grant that supported research on coronaviruses in China before the pandemic. Sen. Rand Paul, among others, has argued that the pandemic probably began with a laboratory leak. NIH officials said the research the agency helped fund in China could not possibly have generated the virus that has first appeared in Wuhan. Many scientists who have studied the pandemic's origin favor the theory that the virus first spilled into the human population from animals sold in a Wuhan market in a natural process called zoonosis. The new director will confront other challenges, including the urgency to diversify the scientific workforce and increase support of scientists early in their careers.
The pandemic also underscored the necessity of addressing health disparities and racial inequities that persist at every level of science. Black scientists are less likely to be funded than White scientists; participants in clinical research that lay the groundwork for medical knowledge and new medicines are overwhelmingly White; and the participants in DNA databases that are intended to lay the groundwork for fundamental discoveries about human health are also mostly White.
Klotman and her husband, Paul, both worked as NIH scientists earlier in their careers, before she took on a senior role at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She also served as the past president of the Association of American Physicians. Klotman has praised Biden's approach to fighting coronavirus and the president's other scientific priorities.
"I'm particularly excited about the science leadership team, and that science has been elevated to a Cabinet level," Klotman said in a Duke video posted in January 2021, extolling Biden's decision choice to select Eric Lander as head of the White House science office, retain Collins at NIH and expand Fauci's role. Lander stepped down in February after acknowledging that he mistreated his subordinates.
Robert Califf, who was Klotman's colleague at Duke, is commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

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