“Gene Hunter” Francis Collins to Present Humphreys Lecture

March 21, 2000

Dr. Francis Collins will present “Medical and Societal Consequences of the Human Genome Project” at Mary Baldwin University’s Francis Auditorium on Sunday, March 26, at 7:00 p.m. Collins, an internationally recognized genetic researcher, will give the free public lecture as part of this year’s annual Mary E. Humphreys Biology Lecture Series.

As head of the National Human Genetics Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Collins is leading what has been referred to as “the most audacious endeavor undertaken in biology – discovering the complete genetic instructions for a human being.”

According to a recent U.S. News and World Report article, “This revolution will bring changes no less sweeping than those wrought by the microchip in the 1990s?. The consumer will keenly feel the effects: simple blood tests, for instance, that reveal one’s risk of developing cancer or Alzheimer’s, or custom-made drugs that work without side effects.”

Already well known for his work at the University of Michigan in discovering the genes for several diseases, Collins was hired by the NIH in 1993 to head the genome project. Under his direction, the project has accelerated and recently, Collins has been exploring avenues for collaboration between the NIH and private genome research interests.

Collins is a Staunton native, the son of Mary Baldwin’s Professor Emeritus of Theatre Fletcher Collins Jr. He earned his bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia, his M. Phil. and Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale University, and his M.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill. In addition, he has received five honorary doctorates, lectured around the world, and been honored with countless awards.

The Mary E. Humphreys Biology Lecture Series was established in 1992 to bring prominent scientists to the Mary Baldwin campus to present public lectures. Friends and former students of Dr. Mary Humphreys, professor emerita of biology, who served on the biology faculty at Mary Baldwin for 25 years (1943-1968), sponsor the series.