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Biosketch of the NICHD Director

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Alan Guttmacher, M.D.

NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., announced the appointment of Alan Guttmacher, M.D., as the Director of NICHD on July 22, 2010.

Alan Guttmacher, M.D., assumed the duties of NICHD Acting Director on December 1, 2009. A pediatrician and medical geneticist, Dr. Guttmacher came to the NIH in 1999 to work at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), where he served in a number of roles, including Deputy Director from 2002 to 2010, and Acting Director from 2008 to November 30, 2009. In those roles, he oversaw that Institute’s efforts to advance genome research, integrate that research into health care, and explore the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genomics.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Guttmacher explains that he went into medicine because, as a middle school teacher, he became interested in the etiology and treatment of pediatric learning disorders. He received an A.B. degree from Harvard College in 1972 and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1981. After completing his internship and residency in pediatrics at Children's Hospital Boston, Dr. Guttmacher earned a two-year National Research Service Award from the U.S. Public Health Service as a fellow in medical genetics at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Guttmacher became director of the Vermont Regional Genetics Center at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in 1987. While there, he launched a series of public health genetics programs, directed the Vermont Cancer Center's Familial Cancer Program and the Vermont Newborn Screening Program, and founded Vermont's only pediatric intensive care unit. He also directed the nation's first statewide effort to involve the general public in discussion of the Human Genome Project's (HGP) ethical, legal, and social implications—an initiative funded by NIH. He also developed a busy practice in clinical genetics, conducted research, and was a tenured associate professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Vermont.

In 1999, he joined the NHGRI as Senior Clinical Advisor to the Director. In that role, Dr. Guttmacher established a dialogue with health professionals and the public about the health and societal implications of the HGP. He played a pivotal role in guiding the establishment of the National Coalition for Health professional Education in Genetics, a non-profit coalition that promotes health-professional education and access to information about advances in human genetics. He has given hundreds of talks to physicians, consumer groups, students and the lay public about genetics and its impact on health, health care and society. Among his research interests have been dysmorphology, syndrome identification and delineation, and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia.

Dr. Guttmacher became Deputy Director of NHGRI in 2002. In 2003, he and Dr. Francis Collins (now NIH Director) co-edited Genomic Medicine, a series about the application of advances in genomics to medical care for The New England Journal of Medicine. He and Dr. Collins will be co-editing another series on genomics in medicine that will appear in the same journal starting early in 2010. He previously served in volunteer leadership positions for several regional and national nonprofit organizations involved with reproductive health. He is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics, and a member of the Institute of Medicine.

Last Updated Date: 04/17/2013
Last Reviewed Date: 04/17/2013