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Yale MD Class of 2024 Selects Former NIH Director Francis Collins as Commencement Speaker

December 16, 2023
by Abigail Roth

The Yale School of Medicine (YSM) MD Class of 2024 has selected physician-geneticist Francis Collins, MD, PhD, the former director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as its graduation speaker. The ceremony will take place on Monday, May 20.

Collins, who is currently an NIH distinguished investigator in the Center for Precision Health Research, was the longest-serving director of NIH. His tenure from 2009-2021 spanned three presidencies. From 1993-2008, Collins served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH. Collins is known for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. Additionally, in 2022, Collins served as acting science advisor to President Biden and co-chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

His research lab has discovered many genes, including those responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease, a familial endocrine cancer syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a rare condition that causes premature aging.

Collins, who received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Yale, was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Michigan, and is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, the National Medal of Science in 2009, and the Templeton Prize in 2020.

The Class of 2024 is honored that Collins has accepted its invitation to speak at its Commencement ceremony.

Submitted by Abigail Roth on December 16, 2023