Francis Collins who serves as the Director of the National Institutes of Health has announced his decision to step down from the post by the end of the year. He has been the head of the institutes throughout the terms of three U.S. Presidents. His tenure has lasted for over 12 years.

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He confirmed the decision on his Twitter account and wrote, “It's been a privilege & honour to serve as #NIH Director for over 12 years. However, I believe no person should hold this position for too long. So with deep gratitude to this great agency & the people who carry out its mission, I've decided to step down.”

The 71-year-old is an American physician – geneticist who is credited for his discovery of genes associated with a number of diseases; he led the Human Genome Project. He was born in Staunton, Virginia to Fletcher Collins and Margaret James Collins.

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Interestingly, he was home schooled until sixth grade and aspired to be a chemist in most of his high school years and had little interest in Biology, a field he goes on to excel in.

Collins earned his degree for a Doctor of Medicine in 1977 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He joined the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor as an assistant professor where he earned his reputation as one of the world’s best genetics researchers.

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He was the leader of an international collaboration which resulted in the first mapping of the entire human genome and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions.

In 2006, his book The Language of God was published which covered his journey from being an Atheist to accepting Christian faith where he argued that science enhances a person’s belief.

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He was nominated to become the head of NIH in 2009 by President Barack Obama and received unanimous approval of the senate.

Francis’s contributions to the field will never be forgotten and the work he has done speaks for itself.