Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., a physician-geneticist and leader of the Human Genome Project, has been awarded with the new Inamori Ethics Prize from the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University.
Modeled after the Nobel and Kyoto Prizes for science, technology, philosophy and the arts, the Inamori Ethics Prize instead honors outstanding international ethical leaders. It is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated exemplary ethical leadership and whose actions and influence have greatly improved the condition of humankind. The prize recipient also receives a US$25,000 cash award intended to support his or her ongoing work.
Noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes, Collins serves as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His laboratory is dedicated to researching both rare and common diseases and has discovered a number of important genes, including those responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease, adult onset diabetes and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a dramatic form of premature aging.
Collins led the multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional Human Genome Project, an international effort to map and sequence the three billion letters in the human DNA, offering the first complete view of the "human instruction book." With its ultimate goal of improving human health, many consider the project to be one of the most significant scientific undertakings of our time. All the groundbreaking data are now available to the scientific community without restrictions on access or use.
"Throughout his long and distinguished career, Dr. Collins has consistently emphasized the importance of ethical and legal issues in genetics, while at the same time working tirelessly to improving the lives of people worldwide," said Shannon French, director of the Inamori Center.