Today we know the molecular cause of 4,000 diseases, but treatments are available for only 250 of them. So what’s taking so long? Geneticist and physician Francis Collins explains why systematic drug discovery is imperative, even for rare and complex diseases, and offers a few solutions — like teaching old drugs new tricks.
Francis Collins is the Director of the National Institutes of Health and was a key player in the completion of the Human Genome Project.
In 2000 the world saw the first working draft of the human genome, and that’s in no small part thanks to Francis Collins. Under his directorship at the National Human Genome Research Institute, the Human Genome Project was finished, a complete mapping of all 20,500 genes in the human genome, with a high-quality, reference sequence published in April 2003. In 2009 President Obama nominated Collins as the Director of the National Institutes of Health, and later that year he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Collins is also a self-described “serious Christian” and the author of several books on science and faith, including The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.