"I concluded at the age of 15 or 16 that I had no interest in biology, or medicine, or any of those aspects of science that dealt with this messy thing called life. It just wasn't organized, and I wanted to stick with the nice pristine sciences of chemistry and physics, where everything made sense."
A few years later, this farm boy from Virginia's Shenandoah Valley discovered the emerging field of DNA research and changed his whole life direction in life. Already a graduate student with a wife and child, Francis Collins followed his graduate studies in chemistry and enrolled in medical school, determined to learn if the new discoveries in molecular biology could uncover the causes of hereditary illnesses.
Dr. Collins developed techniques to map and identify genes that cause human diseases including cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease. As Director of the National Center for Human Genome Research, he led one of the largest undertakings in the history of science. By 2003, this effort had decoded the entire human genome, the first essential step to unlocking the mysteries of human heredity. In July 2009, President Obama selected Dr. Collins to serve as Director of the National Institutes of Health, the Federal government's primary agency for conducting and supporting medical research.