Francis Sellers Collins is an American physician-geneticist, noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project (HGP) and described by the Endocrine Society as "one of the most accomplished scientists of our time." He currently serves as Director of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Collins has written a book about his Christian faith. He founded and was president of the BioLogos Foundation before accepting the nomination to lead the NIH. On October 14, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Francis Collins to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Collins accepted an invitation in 1993 to succeed James Watson as Director of the National Center for Human Genome Research, which became NHGRI in 1997. As Director, he oversaw the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium and many other aspects of what he has called "an adventure that beats going to the moon or splitting the atom."
In 1994, Collins founded NHGRI's Division of Intramural Research (DIR), a collection of investigator-directed laboratories that conduct genome research on the NIH campus and that has developed into one of the nation's premier research centers in human genetics.
With Collins at the helm, the HGP attained several milestones, while running ahead of schedule and under budget. A working draft of the human genome was announced in June 2000, and Collins was joined by US President Bill Clinton and rival biologist Craig Venter in making the announcement. Venter and Collins thus shared the "Biography of the Year" title from A&E Network. An initial analysis was published in February 2001. HGP scientists continued to work toward finishing the sequence of all three billion base pairs by 2003, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Watson and Crick's seminal publication of the structure of DNA. In 2005 Collins and Venter were also honored as two of "America's Best Leaders" by U.S. News & World Report and the Harvard Center for Public Leadership. Collins's commitment to free, rapid access to genomic information helped to make all data immediately available to the worldwide scientific community.
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