Author Topic: Dr. Francis Collins Retires From Genome Project  (Read 6214 times)

Offline JC Spencer

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'Mere Christianity' makes sense, scientist tells CS Lewis Foundation
Posted: Saturday, August 2, 2008, 10:24 (BST)

An award-winning American scientist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes, and leadership of the Human Genome Project to map the entire human DNA, has described his journey from atheism to Christian belief to an international audience in England.

"There really is no conflict between faith and reason," Professor Francis Collins told the CS Lewis Foundation's international summer institute, Oxbridge 2008, on at St Aldate's Church, Cambridge, on Wednesday.

"As a committed materialist in college, I assumed the physical was all there was," said Collins, who in 1977 at the age of 27 completed a career change from chemistry to medicine and became a doctor. This, he said, forced him to confront pain and death face-to-face. "That was a dramatic turn for me. The concepts were not hypothetical anymore."

Through encounters with patients, pastors and, finally, by reading "Mere Christianity" by CS Lewis, Collins realised, "I had never really looked at the evidence. Atheism had only been a convenient pathway. I had to decide what was really the truth but I thought that faith and reason were on opposite poles."

"Mere Christianity" began life as a series of lectures given by Lewis in 1943, and the best-selling book that followed had a profound effect on Collins. "Even in the first few pages, all my arguments about faith just fell apart. It was breathtaking ... Lewis remains my best teacher," he said. Within a year, Collins had become a Christian.

Before a packed audience in Cambridge, Collins cited evidence for his beliefs based on the moral law and mathematical and universal laws. Defending his position as a "theistic evolutionist", Collins said that his beliefs as a Christian and his research as a scientist had led him to the view that faith and reason are compatible.

Collins, who has been involved in identifying the genes that cause cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease, formally retired on Friday, stepping down as director of the Maryland-based National Genome Research Institute.

Taking as his theme "The Language of God: A Scientist-Believer Looks at the Human Genome", Collins told his audience about his DNA work in mapping the 13 trillion gene pairs of the human organism. The DNA, Collins explained, is the "instruction book of the cell" and is made up of a double strand of chemical information coded as single letters. He added that having mapped the 3.1 billion letters, the genome project had made the information accessible to the worldwide scientific community as unpatented knowledge available for benevolent uses, most especially preventative medicine and gene therapy.

On 3 November 2007, Collins received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, his nation's highest civil award, for his revolutionary contributions to genetic research.

Francis Collins' lecture in Cambridge was one of a number of plenary presentations that make up Oxbridge 2008, which concluded on Friday. The summer institute moves to Cambridge until next Thursday under the theme of "Imago Dei? The Self and the Search for Meaning".

Christianity TODAY

« Last Edit: August 02, 2008, 10:26:50 AM by JC Spencer »

Offline JC Spencer

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Dr. Francis Collins Retires From Genome Project
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2008, 10:13:09 AM »
Comments by J. C. Spencer

The work of Dr. Francis Collins over the last fifteen years will forever impact Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, MS, ALS, ADD, ADHD, dementia, neurodegenerative diseases and the future of human health.

Dr. Francis Collins has helped Sir Isaac Newton in ways neither would have ever dreamed.  Mapping the Human Genome during his fifteen years with NIH (National Institutes of Health) has brought Dr. Collins from atheism to Christianity.  Sir Isaac Newton said, “The purpose of science is to seek to understand the mind of God.”

The genome project and glycomics, the science of sugars, are merging as the two sciences that will forever change human thinking.  Genomics is the study of the code of all life as found in the DNA.  Glycomics is the OS (operating system) to read the code.  What a joy it would be for scientists like Francis Collins to join us in our quest to improve life and health through the merging of these two sciences.

"Watching our own DNA instruction book emerge letter by letter provided a profound sense of awe unlike anything I could have imagined. It was, after all, reading the language of God," Collins told Bob Abernethy, host of PBS' "Religion and Ethics News Weekly." Indeed, the title of his 2006 book is "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief."

See a related video trailer from the Home Page of The Endowment for Medical Research from the HOT Links of Interest entitled Unlocking the Mystery of LIFE.

I commend The Free Lance - Star of Fredericksburg, Virginia for their story on the retirement of Dr. Francis Collins.

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Gene mapper

Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, is retiring

Date published: 6/1/2008

THE MYSTERY of what it means to be human was only partly unraveled by mapping Homo sapiens' genetic code. Much more is to be learned, and that's one reason why the head of the Human Genome Project is stepping down from his post at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Francis Collins, a Staunton native, was homeschooled until sixth grade. His work at NIH included not only mapping the human genome, but identifying the genes behind many common diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and Huntington's disease. The timing of his decision to exit, he said, is related to President Bush's signing of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, for which he campaigned. That law shields individuals from discrimination based on the potential for disease in their genes.

Dr. Collins' research led him on a journey from atheism to Christianity. "Watching our own DNA instruction book emerge letter by letter provided a profound sense of awe unlike anything I could've imagined. It was, after all, reading the language of God," Collins told Bob Abernethy, host of PBS' "Religion and Ethics News Weekly." Indeed, the title of his 2006 book is "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief."

What scientists found as they identified gene after gene has opened further avenues for research. In 2007, Dr. Collins' group announced that it had discovered that genes are not simply units arranged on strands of DNA like beads on a necklace. Some overlap, some share molecular codes, and they seem to "communicate" with each other in some mysterious way. What we know now about DNA roughly equates to knowing the alphabet, but not the syntax and structure, of a language.

Dr. Collins wants time to write and research. His 15-year stint at NIH has served mankind well; at 58, the guitar-playing whitecoat likely has years left to contribute. All the best.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2008, 05:35:23 PM by JC Spencer »