March 9-22, 2001
(no issue March 16 due to Spring Break)
Back Issues
Matthews family gives $500,000
Human Genome Project leader will be graduation speaker
General Faculty Council holding elections online
Library honors Madison's contributions to U.Va.
WFPA seeking nominations

Students vote down three of four proposed Honor System reforms

Nondiscrimination policy
Undergraduate engineers launch real-world NASA project
In Memoriam
U.Va. tapped to study acute lung injury
Hot Links -- Jackson Davis Collection
Communications projects recognized
Notable -- awards and achievements of faculty and staff
Not just an 'everyday' experience -- photo
Special trio closes concert series
After Hours -- Zephyrus
Dr. Francis Collins
Knight-Ridder/Tribune Photo Service
The letters superimposed across the face of Dr. Francis Collins, a U.Va. alumnus who heads the Human Genome Project, represent the base pairs from the gene that controls cystic fibrosis, one of his earlier discoveries.

Human Genome Project leader will be graduation speaker

By Robert Brickhouse

Dr. Francis S. Collins, the physician-geneticist who heads the international Human Genome Project, will be the commencement speaker at the University's Final Exercises on May 20.

A 1970 graduate of the University and director of the National Institutes of Health's National Human Genome Research Institute, Collins oversees the 13-year, publicly funded research effort to map and sequence all of the human DNA genetic code, a project that has been called the most important scientific undertaking of our era. Its aim is to help understand the basis of genetic diseases and gain insight into human evolution.

Raised on a small farm near Staunton and home-schooled until the sixth grade, Collins entered U.Va. at age 16 and received his undergraduate degree in chemistry.  He went on to take his Ph.D. in chemistry at Yale and then, sensing that a revolution was under way in molecular biology and genetics, enrolled in medical school at the University of North Carolina.

Working in medical genetics and identification of disease genes, he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1984. His ideas and approaches contributed to the development of powerful scientific tools for identifying genetic abnormalities.

See the interview with Dr. Collins that
appeared in the Arts & Sciences alumni magazine.

In 1989 his strategies led to identifying the gene for cystic fibrosis and to further successful collaborations in identifying other disease genes. In 1993 he accepted an invitation to become the second director of the National Center for Human Genome Research, following James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. 
His accomplishments have brought numerous honors, including election to the Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences. Earlier this month he was named a Virginia Outstanding Scientist of the Year by the Science Museum of Virginia. The museum will formally award the honor at a ceremony later this spring.

The Human Genome Project, slated for completion in 2003, is ahead of its original schedule. The international scientific effort has already produced a draft human genome, or map to the human organism's genes and DNA, that promises to have profound implications for medical and drug research.


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