Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
Ico print Print | Ico email Email | Facebook | | RSS

Francis Collins ’74PhD

Francis Collins ’74PhD came to Yale to study chemistry, drawn to the mathematical precision of molecular interactions. But at Yale he took a biochemistry course that sparked a new appreciation for the sprawling messiness of life, sending Collins in a different direction. He headed to medical school and later became one of the world’s leading geneticists, discovering the genes that cause cystic fibrosis and Huntington’s disease, among other devastating illnesses. As director of the National Human Genome Research Institute from 1993 to 2008, Collins also established a reputation as a strong administrator, completing the sequencing of the human genome ahead of schedule and under budget. Collins’s track record made him a front-runner to head the National Institutes of Health—a position cemented on July 8, when President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate the geneticist as director of the $30 billion research agency. While the announcement drew applause from many scientists, some have questioned the cost-effectiveness of the Humane Genome Project as a national priority. Other critics question the ability of Collins, who is an evangelical (though not fundamentalist) Christian, to reconcile science with his religious faith. Collins himself has undertaken this task in his bestselling book, The Language of God, and in frequent interviews and lectures—like this one at Yale last October.

Filed under Graduate School, milestones, appointed, books
The comment period has expired.