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Fast Track for NIH Director Confirmation?

The appointment of geneticist Francis Collins to direct the National Institutes of Health could soon be a done deal. NIH-watchers in Washington, D.C., say that the Senate committee that handles this nomination will not hold a confirmation hearing, the forum where any controversies are usually aired. Instead, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) may send Collin's nomination—apparently unopposed—to the full Senate for an all-or-nothing "unanimous consent" vote sometime next week—the last chance before the Senate goes on August recess. A HELP committee spokesperson said that no hearing has been scheduled but declined to comment further.