Human Genome Project Leader to Discuss "Language of God" at Tulane

January 21, 2009

Mike Strecker
Phone: 504-865-5210

Francis S. Collins, who as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health led the successful effort of the Human Genome Project to map and sequence all of  human DNA, will speak at The Veritas Forum at Tulane University on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. in McAlister Auditorium.  Collins’ presentation, The Language of God: Intellectual Reflections of a Christian Geneticist, will be followed by a question and answer session and book signing.  The presentation is free and open to the public.  

Born on a small farm in Virginia, Collins rose to become one of the world’s most renowned scientists. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, his PhD in physical chemistry from Yale University and his MD from the University of North Carolina. Following a fellowship in Human Genetics at Yale, Collins joined the faculty at the University of Michigan, where he remained until moving to National Institutes of Health in 1993.         

Under Collins leadership, a working draft of the human genome sequence was announced in June of 2000, an initial analysis was published in February of 2001 and a high-quality, reference sequence was completed in April 2003.  On Nov. 5, 2007, Collins received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civil award, for his contributions to genetic research.  He is currently a member of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team. 

Collins took the title of his best-selling book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, from President Bill Clinton's remarks announcing completion of the first phase of the Human Genome project in 2000: "Today we are learning the language in which God created life."

Once an atheist, now a devout Christian, Collins observes that "the experience of sequencing the human genome and uncovering this most remarkable of all texts, was both a stunning scientific achievement and an occasion of worship."  He argues that belief in a transcendent, personal God can and should coexist with a scientific view of the world that includes evolution, claiming that "science is not threatened by God; it is enhanced" and that "God is most certainly not threatened by science; He made it all possible."

The Veritas Forum at Tulane University is sponsored by Newcomb-Tulane College Co-Curriculum, Tulane School of Medicine, Tulane Honors Department, Baptist Collegiate Ministry, John Templeton Foundation, Campus Crusade for Christ, Tulane Catholic Center, Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship, Tulane Religious Studies Department, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the Wesley Foundation. For more information, please visit  

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000