Former URMC faculty member temporarily takes over NIH, becomes Dr. Fauci's boss
A former University of Rochester Medical Center faculty member is temporarily leading the National Institutes of Health, becoming Dr. Anthony Fauci’s boss during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., was named the acting director of the NIH earlier this month. He started the interim job on Monday, replacing retiring director Francis Collins.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a news release that Tabak's long tenure and broad experience at the NIH will help ensure that the agency is in capable hands as a search for the next NIH director is underway.
“Dr. Tabak has a deep grasp of the most pressing scientific issues confronting our nation, he has earned respect across NIH as a thoughtful and strategic manager and is committed to building a healthier and more equitable America," Becerra said.
Tabak, who was senior associate dean for research and a professor of dentistry and of biochemistry and biophysics at UR's School of Medicine and Dentistry, has worked at the NIH since 2000. He was most recently the agency's principal deputy director and the deputy ethics counselor, a role he's had since 2010, and is believed to be the first dentist to lead the NIH.
Tabak, a Brooklyn native, worked at URMC from 1986 to 2000, initially as an associate professor, according to the university.
After leaving Rochester, he served as director of the NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research from 2000 to 2010, and was the acting principal deputy director of NIH in 2009, before his most recent role.
A former recipient of NIH support, Tabak has focused his research on the structure, biosynthesis and function of glycoproteins. He continues to work in that area, maintaining a research laboratory within the NIH.
The NIH is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. The director sets policies and oversees the agency’s 27 institutes and centers.
Tabak is an elected member the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academies. He received his undergraduate degree from City College of New York, his dental degree from Columbia University and a PhD from the University of Buffalo.