Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Collins, 59, is the geneticist who led the Human Genome Project, the international research effort that mapped out the body’s complete genetic code in 2003. Among his other accomplishments, he was part of the team that in 1989 identified the gene that causes cystic fibrosis.
An evangelical Christian, Collins is also prominent for his efforts to reconcile scientific knowledge with religious faith.
His best-selling book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006) argued for the compatibility of Darwin’s theory of natural selection with the existence of a creator God. Rejecting both creationism and intelligent design, Collins espoused “theistic evolution” as an explanation for the existence of the universe and life.