A former Upstate New York dentist has taken over the National Institutes of Health (NIH), becoming Dr. Anthony Fauci’s boss as the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., has been named the Acting Director of the NIH, effective Monday, December 20. He replaces retiring director Francis Collins, and is believed to be the first dentist to take the helm at the federal government’s focal point for health research.
Dr. Tabak is a Brooklyn native who got his undergraduate degree from City College of New York, his D.D.S. from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, according to the NIH. He was senior associate dean for research and professor of dentistry, biochemistry and biophysics in the School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Rochester, where he worked from 1986 to 2000.
After leaving Rochester, he served as Director of the NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research from 2000 to 2010, as the Acting Principal Deputy Director of NIH in 2009, and as Principal Deputy Director and the Deputy Ethics Counselor of NIH since August 2010.
The NIH, made up of 27 institutes and centers, is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the federal government’s focal point for health research. The NIH director sets policies and oversees the agency’s institutes and centers, including the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).