Dr. Francis Collins is a physician and geneticist known for spearheading the Human Genome Project and for his landmark discoveries of disease genes. With Collins at the helm, the Human Genome Project produced a finished sequence of human DNA in 2003. He then used this new data to help create powerful tools and strategies to advance biological knowledge about humans and improve their health. Along with his research, Collins has also stressed the importance of considering the ethical and legal issues surrounding genetics.
Collins founded the BioLogos Foundation in November 2007 and served as its president until nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate as the 16th Director of the National Institutes of Health. He resigned from the BioLogos Foundation on August 16, 2009, and was sworn in as NIH Director the following day.
Formerly an atheist, Collins became a Christian in his 20s after realizing his perspective did not provide answers to profound questions about the meaning of life and was inconsistent with observations about the nature of the universe and humankind. He wrote about finding harmony between the scientific and spiritual worldviews in The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, which spent 20 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. Collins coined the term BioLogos to define the conclusions he reached about how life, or bios, came about through Godâ€™s word, or logos. DNA, therefore, may be considered Godâ€™s language.
Collins received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Virginia, a doctorate in physical chemistry from Yale University and a medical degree from The University of North Carolina. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and in November 2007 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given by the president, for revolutionizing genetic research.
Collins gives frequent lectures about science and faith on college campuses that regularly attract more than 1,000 people. His book on personalized medicine will be published by HarperCollins in January 2010.