Dr Francis S. Collins, a geneticist and physician who is director of the National Institutes of Health outside Washington in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, is the 2020 Templeton Prize Laureate.
Collins, who led the Human Genome Project to its successful completion in 2003, has advocated for the integration of faith and reason throughout his career. He is a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.
The Templeton Prize, established in 1972 by Sir John Templeton, aims to recognise someone “who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works.”
The announcement was made online at TempletonPrize.org on 20th May by the Templeton philanthropies: the John Templeton Foundation in West Conshohocken and by the Templeton World Charity Foundation and Templeton Religion Trust in Nassau, Bahamas.
In a statement, Collins, who has headed NIH since 17th August, 2009, said that “almost my every waking moment is consumed by the effort to find treatments and a vaccine for Covid-19. … I grieve at the suffering and death I see all around, and at times I confess I am assailed by doubts about how a loving God would permit such tragedies. But then I remember that the God who hung on the cross is intimately familiar with suffering … (and is) ‘our refuge and strength’ (Psalm 46).”
Photo: Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labour and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, USA, on 7th May. (CNS photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool via Reuters)