Tuesday, April 27, 2010
An Interview with Child Health Director, Dr. Alan Guttmacher
NY Times: Child Health Director Has Background in Genetics, by Claudia Dreifus:
Dr. Alan Guttmacher, a Harvard-trained geneticist and pediatrician, is the new acting director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the federal agency that finances research into child and maternal health. Dr. Guttmacher, 60, previously worked with Francis Collins on the Human Genome Project and then as the deputy director of the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health. We spoke for three hours in his Bethesda, Md., offices and then later by telephone. An edited version of the conversations follows.
Q. YOUR UNCLE WAS THE PRESIDENT OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD AND A TOWERING FIGURE IN THE REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS MOVEMENT. HAS THERE BEEN ANY CRITICISM OF APPOINTING ANYONE NAMED ALAN GUTTMACHER TO THIS POST?
A. I have not been aware of any. The name does stand for something. Planned Parenthood was more of a social movement until my uncle said, “If we’re making all these decisions, we need to make sure that it is backed up by good scientific information.” So he started the think tank that became known as the Guttmacher Institute. One finds that people know the name primarily because of that. But people on both sides of the abortion debate tend to use their data as the reliable data. So, to some degree, my appointment has been less controversial than some might think. . . .