NIH Director Francis Collins recently named Larry Tabak as the NIH principal deputy director. Raynard Kington previously held this key position.
Over the years, I have worked closely with Dr. Tabak in many settings, including the Enhancing Peer Review initiative. A biochemist who continues to do research in the field of glycobiology, he is a firm supporter of investigator-initiated research and basic science. He is also a good listener and a creative problem solver.
Dr. Tabak, who has both D.D.S. and Ph.D. degrees, has directed NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research for the past decade. In 2009, Dr. Kington—who had stepped in as acting director of NIH following the departure of Elias Zerhouni—tapped Dr. Tabak to be his acting deputy. Dr. Tabak’s achievements included playing an integral role in NIH Recovery Act activities.
Given the challenging issues that the principal deputy director often works on, Dr. Tabak’s experience—from dentist and bench scientist to scientific administrator—clearly provides him with valuable tools for the job. His experience as an endodontist may be particularly useful in some situations, allowing him to identify and “treat” potentially serious issues.