Geneticist and physician Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, who led the Human Genome Project to its successful completion in 2003 and throughout his career has advocated for the integration of faith and reason, was announced today as the 2020 Templeton Prize Laureate.
Watch the acceptance address of 2020 Templeton Prize winner Dr. Francis S. Collins, a physician, geneticist, and director of the National Institutes of Health.
The Faraday Institute wishes to congratulate him on this significant recognition alongside his recent election as Foreign Member of the Royal Society.

In his scientific leadership, public speaking, and popular writing, including his bestselling 2006 book, The Language of God, Collins has demonstrated how religious faith can motivate and inspire rigorous scientific research. “This book argues that belief in God can be an entirely rational choice,” he writes in the introduction, “and that the principles of faith are, in fact, complementary with the principles of science.” In the book, he endeavors to encourage religious communities to embrace the latest discoveries of genetics and the biomedical sciences as insights to enrich and enlarge their faith.

Collins, 70, was selected as the 2020 Laureate by the Prize judges late last year, but the announcement was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From 1993 to 2008, Collins directed the National Human Genome Research Institute, guiding the Human Genome Project in its mapping and sequencing of the three billion DNA letters that make up the human genetic instruction book.

Before joining the NIH, Collins served as professor of internal medicine and human genetics at the University of Michigan, where he was known as the “gene hunter” for his pioneering technique of “positional cloning” to pinpoint disease-related genes. His research groups have been responsible for the discovery of the genes responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease, and Hutchinson-Guilford progeria syndrome, a rare form of premature aging.

These and other genetic breakthroughs have helped launch a new era of precision medicine in which researchers and providers can customize treatment programs for individual patients, and have shed new light on human well-being and the nature and possibilities of the human species.

The announcement was made online at today by the Templeton philanthropies: the John Templeton Foundation, based in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, and by the Templeton World Charity Foundation and Templeton Religion Trust, based in Nassau, The Bahamas.

The Templeton Prize, valued at 1.1 million British pounds, is one of the world’s largest annual individual awards and honors individuals whose exemplary achievements advance Sir John Templeton’s philanthropic vision: harnessing the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe and humankind’s place and purpose within it. Collins joins a list of 50 Prize recipients including Mother Teresa (the inaugural award in 1973), the Dalai Lama (2012), and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (2013). Last year’s Templeton Prize went to theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser for his writings that present science, philosophy, and spirituality as complementary expressions of humanity’s need to embrace mystery and the unknown. Other scientists who have won the Prize include Martin Rees (2011), John Barrow (2006), George Ellis (2004), the late Freeman Dyson (2000), and Paul Davies (1995).

Francis Collins will formally receive the Templeton Prize in a virtual ceremony later this year.

Read the full announcement and discover more about the 2020 Templeton Prize Laureate, Francis Collins.

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