On April 24, 2014, an exclusive group of visionaries presented to over 4,000 students at the USA Science & Engineering Festival’s inaugural X-STEM Symposium sponsored by Northrop Grumman Foundation and MedImmune. The all day event included interactive presentations and workshops with some of the top scientists and engineers in the country.
Watch his presentation below:
After being nominated by President Obama, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, to head the NIH— the nation’s top governmental agency responsible for conducting and overseeing medical research and programs designed to improve the health of the nation – Francis has been focused on leading the NIH’s 27 institutes and centers which together employ 18,000 people. The agency has a budget of $31 billion, about 80 percent which is distributed to scientists elsewhere for research. One look at Francis’ formidable career accomplishments and you will know why he was picked for such an important, high-profile position. Among his achievements:
• While involved with the Human Genome Project, Francis developed an important technique for identifying genes and went on to identify those involved in cystic fibrosis and neurofibromatosis, among other conditions. He was the first director of NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute.
• In recent years, he has been a champion of “personalized medicine,” which he hopes to harvest the fruits of the genomics revolution in the form of better and safer clinical care.
• Francis spearheaded the federal government’s efforts to finish the sequencing of the human genome before it could be completed by J. Craig Venter, a former NIH scientist who took on the task from the private sector. The two finished a draft of the sequence in a cooperative dead heat celebrated in a White House ceremony with President Bill Clinton in June 2000.
• While at Yale following his medical residency, he developed a technique called “positional cloning” that helps biologists locate genes scattered through the huge, linear mass of DNA. However challenging his duties are as NIH chief and scientist, Francis, with his boyish mop of (now graying) blond hair, still knows how to have fun. He is a guitarist and vocalist for “The Directors,” a rock band comprised of NIH scientists and executives plays about three gigs a year.
Thank you to Dr. Francis Collins for participating in the X-STEM Symposium!
Learn more about the X-STEM Symposium by clicking here.