“The Doctor’s Art” is a weekly podcast exploring what makes medicine meaningful, with profiles and stories of doctors, patients, educators, leaders and others working in healthcare. Listen and subscribe to Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Google, Stitcher and Podchaser.
The Human Genome Project was a 13-year international effort to map and sequence all genes in the human genome.
At the forefront of this ambitious endeavor was Francis Collins, MD, PhD, who was also Director of the National Institutes of Health from 2009 to 2021. His work has had far-reaching implications for our understanding of disease and the development of new therapies. Aside from being one of the leading medical scientists of our time, Collins is also known for his courageous defense of his Christian faith and for his unwavering promotion of dialogue between science and religion. His book The language of God was an international bestseller.
In this episode, Collins joins us to share his remarkable journey in medicine, the origins and evolution of his beliefs, and his perspectives on medicine’s moral mission.
In this episode you will learn about:
- 1:56 An in-depth personal look at Collins’ career that led to his leadership of the Human Genome Project
- 10:02 The Mission and Impact of the Human Genome Project
- 15:25 The cultural upheaval that took place in Collins’ lifetime and the way that popular culture tends to pit science against faith
- 24:47 The origin of BioLogos and its mission to foster a community that strives to balance science and Christian faith
- 28:26 A brief discussion of Intelligent Design, a movement that aims to prove the existence of God through science, and how it differs from BioLogos
- 32:42 Collins’ reflections on the reconciliation between his belief in God and the human suffering he has experienced throughout his career
- 40:38 Advice on how to find meaning and fulfillment in life and work and how community can help fight burnout
A partial transcript follows (note errors are possible):
bair: Hi. I’m Henry Bair.
Johnson: And I’m Tyler Johnson.
bair: And you’re listening to The Doctor’s Art, a podcast exploring meaning in medicine. Throughout our medical education and career, we have thought about what makes medicine meaningful. Can a greater understanding of this importance make better doctors? How can we build healthcare facilities that promote doctor-patient connection? What can we learn about the human condition by accompanying our patients in times of suffering?
Johnson: In seeking answers to these questions, we meet deep thinkers from across healthcare, from physicians and nurses to patients and healthcare leaders—those who have accumulated hard-earned knowledge throughout their careers and explore the moral heart that at its core beats medicine. We will hear stories that alternate between heartbreaking, amusing, inspirational, challenging and insightful. We welcome anyone who is curious as to why doctors do what they do. Join us in thinking aloud what illness and healing can teach us about some of life’s biggest questions.
bair: The Human Genome Project was a 13-year international effort to map and sequence all genes in the human genome. It was one of the most ambitious and exciting scientific research projects in human history, with far-reaching implications for our understanding of disease and the discovery of new therapies. The project was led by Dr. Francis Collins, who was also director of the National Institutes of Health from 2009 to 2021. dr In addition to being one of the leading medical scientists of our time, Collins is known for his courageous defense of his Christian faith and for his persistent promotion of dialogue about the relationship between science and religion. His book The language of God was an international bestseller.
In this episode, Dr. Collins shares with us his remarkable journey in medicine, the origins and development of his beliefs, and his views on medicine’s moral mission. Francis, it is truly an honor to have you with us today. Welcome to the broadcast. You’ve had such a long, tortuous, and incredibly successful career that our introduction just didn’t do the explanation justice at all. I think it would be helpful to guide the rest of our conversation if you could trace your journey for our audience. What were the most important stages on your path in training and work?
Collin: No one could say it was a linear path. When I was in college at the University of Virginia, the only thing I was really interested in was science, and the science of chemistry in particular. I had been hooked by a very talented chemistry teacher in high school and I was like, okay, that’s it. I should do that. So I majored in chemistry, took every chemistry class I could get, and lots of physics and lots of math. I avoided humanities because I thought they were muddy. And I avoided biology because I thought it was messy. So I was rather narrow-minded at that point. And when I finished college, I was like, “Well, what are you doing next? You’re doing your PhD. And you know what? Chemistry.” So I went to Yale and was mostly interested in quantum mechanics and thermodynamics – the kind of mathematical side of chemistry and physics. And I enjoyed that for the first year or so. And then I kind of started having this fading feeling that maybe other things were happening in science that were pretty interesting, but I’d been avoiding them. And I took a course in biochemistry just to see what it was all about. And I was totally blown away because I felt like biology was only going to be descriptive. There would be no organizing principles. I just had a lot of stuff to memorize and there wasn’t going to be any really interesting science to do. And I found that I was completely wrong about that.
For the full transcript see The art of the doctor.
If you know a doctor, patient or someone who works in healthcare who would like to explore the importance of medicine with us on the show, please feel free to leave a suggestion in the comments or email [email protected]
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