Francis S. Collins

Francis S. Collins, a pioneering geneticist, was nominated by President Barack Obama to head the National Institutes of Health (N.I.H.).

Collins (Col ’70) was part of a team that discovered the gene for cystic fibrosis in 1989. Later, he was head of the Human Genome Project, which he called “the most important and the most significant project that humankind has ever mounted.” The project was funded by the N.I.H. and was successful in its effort to sequence the entire human genome in 2003. The N.I.H. is the most significant source of research money in the world; over the next year, it will distribute $37 billion in research grants and spend $4 billion on research at its Maryland campus.

Incidentally, Collins was also a GQ “Rock Star of Science” and recently wrote the bestselling book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.