NIH and surgeon general nominees combine faith, biomedical achievement
Francis Collins, Regina Benjamin
Aug 25, 2009
When President Obama named his choices for his administration’s two top medical posts, he chose people of public acclaim whose faith positions may put them out of step with conservative believers—but in tune with White House pragmatism.
Dr. Francis Collins, 59, Obama’s nominee to head the National Institutes of Health, has differed from fellow evangelicals by affirming the theory of evolution and supporting embryonic stem cell research.
Surgeon General nominee Dr. Regina Benjamin, 52, is a Roman Catholic who attended Catholic schools and was awarded a papal medal but, according to the White House, agrees with the president on “reproductive health issues.”
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).