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Dr. David J. Skorton is the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian. He assumed his position July 1, 2015. As Secretary, Skorton oversees 19 museums and galleries, 20 libraries, the National Zoo and numerous research centers, including the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. He is responsible for an annual budget of $1.3 billion, 6,500 employees, and 6,300 volunteers. The Smithsonian's federal appropriation for fiscal year 2015 is $819.5 million, which accounts for 62 percent of the Institution's funding. The Smithsonian generates additional funding from private contributions and business revenues.
Skorton, a board-certified cardiologist, previously was the president of Cornell University, a position he held from July 2006. He was also a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and in Cornell's Department of Biomedical Engineering at the College of Engineering. His research focus is congenital heart disease and cardiac imaging and image processing. Skorton is the first physician to lead the Smithsonian.
The legislation that created the Smithsonian Institution (approved by Congress Aug. 10, 1846) called for the creation of a Board of Regents to govern and administer the organization.